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Page last updated at 09:55 GMT, Tuesday, 1 May 2012 10:55 UK

How to confuse hairy caterpillars

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Oak processionary moth larvae

Potentially deadly caterpillars covered in thousands of poisonous hairs are invading Britain, according to the Daily Mail.

Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum at Kew Gardens, told the Today programme that the caterpillar of the oak processionary moth is new to the UK, but its dangers may have been exaggerated.

Mr Kirkham, who got a rash after coming into contact with the caterpillar, said it can fire hairs that can lead to skin and eye problems.

The caterpillars' behaviour of joining into long lines can be used to confuse them, he said - if you form a ring they circle "like cowboys" - but because of the health risks, it's "best not to mess around with them".


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