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OPM caterpillars

This project aims to compare the behaviour of oak processionary moth populations in open and woodland habitats, to predict when and where damaging infestations are most likely to occur, and to identify which factors (microclimate, natural enemies or host phenology) are most important in determining the moth’s abundance.

Research objectives

Specific research objectives are to:

  • develop standardised methods for assessing OPM populations
  • analyse variation in OPM population numbers in relation to habitat type, microclimate, the prevalence and diversity of naturally occurring parasitoids and predators, and variation in tree size and phenology
  • develop molecular techniques for identifying parasitoids and predators of OPM and use these techniques to quantify parasitism rates
  • construct and analyse ecological networks of natural enemies that attack OPM and other moth species living in the same habitat

Latest updates

Fieldwork carried out in 2014 indicates significant differences in OPM populations between habitat types. Samples of OPM larvae and pupae collected during the summer are being analysed over the autumn and winter period to identify parasitoids and estimate mortality rates.

Studies on OPM populations in different habitats and factors that influence abundance are being carried out as part of a PhD studentship with the University of Southampton.

Molecular techniques to identify parasitoids of OPM and to quantify their impact are being developed by a research post at the University of Hull.

Related Resources

Tools and Resources webpages on OPM, including details of control action

OPM Pest Risk Analysis

Forestry Staff Nigel Straw 7ksM5Mw.2e16d0ba.fill 600x600 1
Nigel Straw

Research Fellow