Sightings of Brown-tail moth caterpillars on the Isle of Wight have prompted a warning.

The council is urging people not to handle the creatures, whose hairs can break off as barbs, potentially causing skin irritation and breathing difficulties.

Sightings in Ventnor have been reported.

The local authority’s recreation and public spaces manager said:

“Once again this year, with the annual influx of the brown-tail moth caterpillar, I would remind the public to avoid handling them, as they can cause skin and eye irritation, especially in children.”

Lee Matthews added:

“We are working closely with Ventnor Town council and local businesses to manage this year’s influx but if you are unlucky enough to have handled the caterpillars, you may experience a rash together with irritation similar to a severe nettle rash. As hairs can become airborne some people may experience symptoms affecting their eyes and breathing similar to hay fever symptoms.” 

Normally this will give a few hours of localised discomfort, says the council.

The advice is to wash the affected area with water and apply calamine lotion on the skin to help ease the itching.
You should seek medical advice from your pharmacist or GP if symptoms do not settle down within a few hours.