Chiswick House Gardens Later Opening Times

Park will open later Thursday and Friday for tree treatment

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Chiswick House Gardens will open later on two mornings, Thursday 17th and Friday 18th May this week for a short time, to allow preventative measures against the Oak Processionary caterpillar.

The park will be closed between 0700 and 1100 hours and is then expected to open as normal. It will be open on May 19th at the usual time of 0700 hours.

The reason for the temporary closure is so that selected Oak trees can be treated to prevent an infestation of the Oak processionary caterpillar- the measure is precautionary as there is no infestation at present in the grounds.

The closures are weather dependant and therefore the days may alter. Information will be posted at the entrances, and within the park nearer the time.

The Forestry Commission, health and local authorities are currently working together to suppress oak processionary moth infestations throughout areas of south and west London, and Pangbourne, near Reading.

The caterpillars damage oak trees by feeding on the leaves, in some cases leaving the trees severely defoliated and vulnerable to other threats.

They have thousands of tiny toxic hairs which, on contact, can cause itchy skin rashes in people and animals. Eye and throat irritation have also been reported symptoms.

They pose the most risk to health during May and June when the caterpillars are in the final stages of development before becoming a moth. The hairs can be blown on the wind and left in the silken, web-like nests which the caterpillars build in oak trees

An outbreak in Ealing and Richmond was first detected in 2006

“We strongly advise people not to touch or approach the caterpillars or their nests because of the health risks caused by the toxin-containing hairs. Pets can also be affected and should be kept away as well, says the Forestry Commission.

Further information is available from

The OPM (Thaumetopoea processionea) gets its name from the caterpillars' habit of moving about in nose-to-tail processions. A native of southern Europe, it most likely entered Britain as previously laid eggs on young oak trees imported from Europe for planting here.

The caterpillars do not necessarily kill trees - they usually recover - but they would add another unwelcome stress to Britain's oak trees, which in some areas are already suffering from other stresses such as drought and acute oak decline.

A native of southern Europe, OPM has become established as far north as The Netherlands over the past 20 years.


May 16th 2012