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Friday, 9 August, 2002, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Fear over poisonous caterpillars
Caterpillar
Most caterpillars are harmless
Pest controllers have been called in to deal with an outbreak of poisonous caterpillars in north London.

The hairy creatures, which cause skin rashes and even respiratory problems, have appeared on the wall of an office building in Enfield.

The building has been cordoned off and people are being warned not to touch the animals.

The number of caterpillars has risen to thousands.

Cordoned off

Workers are being advised to keep their windows closed until pest controllers have dealt with the bugs - thought to be brown-tailed moth larvae.

Stephan Leigmayer, director of Everbrite Windows where the outbreak has occurred, said: "We first discovered them on Tuesday when there were only a few visible.

"By the next day there were thousands.

"They've got hairs on their back and can cause rashes on the skin.

"If you inhale near them you can get respiratory problems and possibly be hospitalised."

The company's 40 staff have been told it is safe to work inside the building, but to be careful outside.

Protective clothing

The caterpillar is covered in hairs and has a dotted white line down each side.

They are voracious eaters of vegetation and, although they prefer to eat hawthorn or blackberry, they will eat practically any type of tree or bush.

The hairs release irritants and can affect some people quite severely.

People are warned not to handle the caterpillars unless wearing protective clothing.


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04 Jul 02 | England
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