TOXIC caterpillars have been spotted on oak trees across Ealing and people are being warned to be on the lookout.

The larvae of Oak Processionary Moths are being destroyed by the Council's Tree Service and the Forestry Commission and affected trees are being treated.

Large parts of West and South West London have been affected and people are asked to call Ealing Council's Tree Service on 020 8825 5000 or email if they spot the hairy caterpillars or their nests.

Councillor Phil Taylor, Cabinet Member for Community and Customer Services, said: "It is important that people report any sightings to us so the nests and caterpillars can be dealt with safely.

"Residents should not deal with the problem themselves, or touch the nests or larvae."

The caterpillars feed on Oak leaves and produce silken nests on the trunks and branches of affected trees.

If the tiny hairs are blown in the wind and come into contact with people or animals it can cause itching, rashes, eye problems, and in extreme cases, breathing problems.

The council is able to offer support and advice about treatment to residents who discover any nests in their garden and can arrange an appointment for a survey and quotation for the removal of the nests.

If you think you are showing symptoms associated with the Oak Processionary Moth caterpillars visit your GP or call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.