I AM writing regarding the front page story about the brown tail moth caterpillars (Tues, June 5).

This insect excretes a mildly toxic substance through the hairs on their back. In the worst reaction, this can result in a nasty rash and on rare occasions breathing issues, much the same reaction as stinging nettles. Every few years because of environmental factors, the numbers of these caterpillars spike and we are experiencing one of those population spikes this year. The last was in 2011.

The council advises caution and has taken steps to make our residents and visitors aware of the risk in a variety of ways including: on-site signage in the areas where they have been found, widespread social media coverage and providing information to the Beach Hut Association. We would advise anyone who experiences an adverse reaction after touching the caterpillars to contact their GP.

Of course, we have sympathy for anyone that has been affected by the caterpillar hairs but these creatures are naturally occurring and quite common along the south coast. There are more caterpillars this spring than normal because of the early season warm weather.

The beach staff actively remove nests during the dormant months and this year has been no different. Chemical spraying has been considered but on balance, this has the potential to do more harm than the caterpillars. It would certainly affect the food chain and dead caterpillars would continue to pose a risk.

Our seafront team will of course continue to monitor the situation but providing people are aware and take sensible precautions there is no need for alarm.


Cabinet Member for Tourism, Leisure, Arts and Culture,

Bournemouth Town Hall