17 NOVEMBER 2013

Dangerous Moths Vacuumed Up At Kew Gardens

The Kew Gardens facility, in Richmond Surrey, covers 100 acres of land and has over 2500 oak trees dating back to Henry VIII.

The Oak Processionary Moth (OMP), native to southern and central Europe is a major defoliator of Oak and a constant problem within the Gardens. Populations of the moth vary year to year and are regularly monitored.

The Moth (OMP) gets its’ name from the characteristic way the larvae mass on trunks and branches and move in a nose to tail procession.

The caterpillars have irritating hairs that carry a dangerous toxin. The hairs are easily blown in the wind causing serious irritation to the skin, eyes and bronchial tubes of both humans and animals. The moth poses a significant human health risk when populations reach outbreak proportions. As a result populations across Europe are constantly monitored and alert systems are in place.

It is imperative that larvae caterpillars are not handled; adults emerge and fly mid July to early September. The readiness of control methods for this short period is therefore critical.

Previous methods of control focused on insecticides which themselves pose a risk to both humans and wildlife.

A solution was sought from Nilfisk CFM who worked with botanical experts at Kew to evolve a unique vacuum control system.

The CFM 137 H Class, 110v vacuum was supplied allowing the vacuum to be taken into the trees on a cherry picker. A short hose means that there is no loss of power.

A bagging system allows the moths to be collected in a bag for safe disposal, the bag also acts as a part filter. The system is completed with a second stage star filter (PTFE) and a HEPA filter before the motor.

The tiered filtration system ensures that no spines are exhausted into the air. For added security however all operators are equipped with full protective clothing and their own air supply.

A thorough installation and training program was managed by Nilfisk-CFM as working at height and given the dangers involved it is important that the operatives are confident using the vacuum and it is proving to be a safe and effective solution.