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from This Is Local London


Invasion of the caterpillars

11:20 Thursday 15th August 2002

An outbreak of sinister poisonous caterpillars caused pandemonium at an Enfield business on Friday.

Pest controllers were called to Everbrite Windows in East Duck Lees Lane, Enfield, after thousands of the hairy creatures, which can cause severe skin rashes, were discovered on the windows of the building.

The arrival of the dangerous caterpillar species, known as the vapourer moth, caused chaos. The area was cordoned off, cars were moved, windows were locked and the company's 33 staff were confined within the building to keep the beastly bugs out.

Spaced-suited Rentokil workers who were called to the scene discovered the creepy caterpillars were gorging on vegetation and had made their homes in nearby bushes.

The caterpillars were taken away and destroyed and the bushes were hacked down and burned. Staff are now allowed to work in the building but have been told to be cautious.

General manager Malcolm Songer, who first spotted the bug on Tuesday, said: "I was talking to one of my colleagues when I saw one crawling on the window.

"I thought I would keep an eye on the problem but it got so bad that by Thursday there were thousands.

"This has caused a real stir. We were surprised that they had selected Everbrite as their home but we didn't want to take any chances especially as these creatures can injure you."

The vapourer moth which can grow up to 28 mm long can be found all over the UK, particularly in urban areas.

They are covered in warts and have black and yellow toxic hair which can cause skin irritations in people who come into contact with them.

Larvae emerge from egg masses around May, and actively feed on newly emerged seedlings. A second generation can appear from mid-July to September.

Mr Songer added:"We are still keeping the windows closed. We are not taking any chances.

"We are used to challenges but this was unusual and unexpected."

Copyright 2002 Newsquest Media Group - A Gannett Company

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