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From Horticulture week: Brown-tail Moth alert aims to protect people and trees Friday, 13 May 2011 Be the first to comment Brown-tail moths emerging from a hedge have triggered a health warning to staff in a nearby office. Pest controllers warned people to be on the lookout for the moth, which can cause breathing problems, especially in asthma sufferers. Cleankill Pest Control was called after the moths were seen in offices in Portsmouth, echoing similar incidents in Croydon and Exeter. A pesticide barrier was used to stop the bugs crawling into the buildings or colonising other hedges and trees for the emerging moths to devour leaves. Cleankill managing director Paul Bates said: "We are getting more calls this year. We believe the unusually warm spring has contributed to the moths spreading. As well as a health hazard, they will strip a tree of foliage." Officials are dealing with outbreaks in five west London boroughs - Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith, Hounslow and Richmond - and in Pangbourne, West Berkshire. The caterpillar of the brown-tail moth is brown, has a dotted white line down each side and two distinctive red dots on the back of its tail It is a voracious eater of vegetation, especially in spring, and although it prefers hawthorn and blackberry, it will eat practically any type of tree or bush.