We need your help with this…
It looks like the relatively mild winter has been kind to the brown-tail moth, and we’re already seeing their little tents popping up across the Downs.
The brown-tail moth has always lived and nested on the Downs. Like all of us, it has good years and bad years. In good years, the moths will make dozens of nests (“tents”) in bushes and shrubs all over the Downs, with each nest containing dozens of hairy little caterpillars.
The hairs on the caterpillars can cause a stinging rash (a bit like nettles), and if inhaled can apparently be a nuisance for people with asthma and similar breathing difficulties.
If all the caterpillars successfully pupate, emerge and repeat their breeding cycle, it could make the Downs unpleasant for any people who are particularly sensitive to the mild irritation they can cause.
Here’s how you can help
An hour of your time, on Saturday or Sunday morning. You’ll need a pair of gardening gloves (to protect you from the caterpillars’ hairs and the spiky bushes they live in), a pair of secateurs or similar, and a bucket to put the tents in. It’s a good idea to have a hand-held sprayer filled with a mild detergent solution to squirt them with – this stops them all jumping out of their tents when you get near them. Then we’ll just chuck them in the sea – a lot safer and sounder than burning them!
If you would like to help – and this would be HUGELY appreciated – please email me at:
and I’ll sort out the best time for the most people. We’ll be concentrating on the eastern end of the Downs, by the Reculver Drive car park.