A council has highlighted several areas where dangerous caterpillars are nesting.

Hertsmere Borough Council has been surveying trees in the borough to see where oak processionary moth caterpillars are lurking in a bid to “limit the problem” of the pests.

The creatures should not be touched as they contain hairs which can cause itchy rashes as well as eye and throat irritations. The greatest risk of contact is between May and July.

Since May the council has inspected over 1,350 oak trees across Hertsmere’s parks and open spaces to see where the creatures are in the borough.

And it has found 48 trees across 16 council sites that have oak processionary moth nests.

These include areas in Bushey, Radlett, Borehamwood and Potters Bar.

Now, the council will be erecting permanent signs to warn park users of the risks of the oak processionary moth.

“Our advice remains 'spot it, avoid it, report it'," Councillor Seamus Quilty said.

”Since the oak processionary moth was first sighted in Hertsmere, our officers have surveyed a large percentage our oak trees to determine the level of infestation and ensure the safety of park users, especially young children who may be exploring trees this summer.

"Our parks team is working to control the spread of the oak processionary moth. Contractors, wearing protective clothing, will be removing and safely disposing of nests and caterpillars across our parks from mid-July.”

The nests are typically dome or teardrop-shaped, ranging in size – from a ping-pong ball to as large as a rucksack.

They are white when fresh, but soon become discoloured and brown. They can be reocgnised through their habit of crawling in large groups.

Cllr Quilty added: “Once the initial removal has taken place we will continue to work with the Forestry Commission to resurvey and treat the pest to hopefully control and limit the problem in Hertsmere.”

The oak processionary moth has been found in the following locations in Hertsmere:

• King George Rec
• Moatfield Park
• Bushey Golf and Country Club

• Tempsford Green
• Maxwell Hillside Park
• Aberford Park
• Aycliffe Park
• Leeming Park
• Potterswood
• Brampton Road amenity green
• Parkfields
• Ripon Park

Potters Bar
• Parkfield
• Willow Way amenity land
• Mutton Lane Cemetery

• Battlers Green amenity land