More of the creatures have been spotted since the long Easter weekend. However people have been warned just to leave them alone and report them if they are seen near the beach.

Residents have said that said the bugs have been hatching
Residents have said that said the bugs have been hatching

Toxic bugs are threatening to leave UK residents with rashes and breathing problems until at least 2027, experts have warned.

It is thought that millions of brown tail moth caterpillars are having a population explosion this spring, swarming across the countryside as well as parks and gardens.

The adult moths weave spider-like webs that then help the caterpillars grow inside. However do not touch the hairs as that could result in people suffering agonising blisters, skin burns and asthma-like issues for up to five years.

The creatures were spotted in Christchurch, Boscombe and Bournemouth over the Easter holiday period.

Then yesterday (Wednesday April 27) more of the creatures were reported on Jaywick Sands, a popular Essex holiday beach.

Residents have said that said the bugs have been hatching around the beach and crawling over public footpaths getting into the gardens of houses.

Dog owners in the area have been warned not to let their pets eat the caterpillars as they contain toxins which act as deadly poison.

They are not the only thing that dogs may also fall victim to as chemicals in insecticides if they eat bugs which have been sprayed by gardeners.

Tendring District Council, which takes care of Jaywick Sands, said it will not treat the site of the infestation if the land is privately owned. They have said that they will, however, treat the area on council-owned land.

A spokesman said "The caterpillars live in groups and you may see the communal 'tents' which they use for shelter from bad weather .

"These clumps of cobweb-like material will release irritant hairs when disturbed. It is important, therefore, to take protective measures when carrying out any treatment."

Toxic bugs are threatening to leave UK residents with rashes and breathing problems


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Despite this the caterpillars are a vital food source for increasingly-rare cuckoos. As a result nature experts are pleading with people to leave them alone if they are in out of the way spots and are not causing a problem.

The moths make their webs in brambles and bushes, after that their writhing caterpillars cling to undergrowth where people walk barefoot on their way to the beach.

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council have warned "parents should make sure their children don't touch them".

These dangerous moths are found across the countryside, said Dorset Wildlife Trust.

They have a brown spot on their body, and lay eggs on plants which they surround with hairs.

The larvae, which look like maggots, then they become moths in the summer.

If you leave them alone, they should be fine, according to the Dorset Wildlife Trust.

Councils have warned people not to touch the caterpillars


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Bournemouth council agrees, but says they can also be reported to the seafront team if people see the caterpillars near the beach.

"Brown-tail moth caterpillars are a native species and one of the common prey items of the cuckoo.

"Members of the public are advised not to touch the caterpillars as their hairs can be a skin irritant.

"Depending on the location and numbers of caterpillars, BCP Council take different and proportional actions.

"The caterpillars can be left undisturbed, and a sign may be placed to warn people to not touch, or in rare cases the caterpillars are destroyed."

Previously two people have been rushed to hospital after brushing against the bugs in Sussex in 2011.

Back in 2019 children at one Hampshire primary school were banned from going near bushes in the playground.

The ongoing nightmare began when teachers spotted a colony of wriggling brown tail moth caterpillars. Then nearly 190 pupils aged four to 11 at Kimpton primary school in Andover were ordered to stay away from the webs.

During that period more webs were found in Kent. Hersden Parish Council issued a warning urging people to be aware of the larvae in Chislet Gardens, a 210-home estate in Island Road just outside Canterbury.

More were later spotted in hedgerows along the A28 between Hersden and Upstreet. One local woman said on Facebook that she needed hospital treatment with adrenaline after previously coming into contact with them.

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