Plans to kill off tent caterpillars at The Ridings with pesticide are withdrawn

Tent caterpillars
Tent caterpillars Photo Get Wild (Nik Mitchell)

Tent caterpillars at The Ridings that were earmarked for extermination by pesticide are now safe following a U turn by Kent County Council.

Communication sent from KCC originally said targeted insecticide treatment was expected to begin on June 3.

A KCC spokesperson said this was because Brown tail moths “can be a serious risk to health. If the caterpillars come into contact with people, their hairs can cause a painful skin rash and can cause breathing difficulties.”

But ward councillors  Marc Rattigan, Barry Manners and Cedric Towning said use of harmful pesticides could be damaging to the eco-system at The Ridings which is a biodiversity area.

They requested that warning signs be put up instead, saying the caterpillars are a vital part of the environment and natural food chain.

Photo Get Wild (Nik Mitchell)

KCC has now withdrawn its pesticide plan, saying there is no longer a risk to health.

A KCC spokesperson said:  “Following our last inspection of the site, we found that the health risk has since passed due to the caterpillars reaching the pupate stage.

“As the local authority, it is our responsibility to ensure any situation that may pose a risk to public health and safety is checked. Future inspections will be taking place on the site to monitor the situation.”

Photos Get Wild (Nik Mitchell)

Cllr Manners said: “This is an excellent example of local democracy.  Residents and community groups were consulted prior to the proposed spraying by the relevant KCC officer.

“Objections were made to KCC councillors who made strong representation to officers in Maidstone to reconsider. A win for the local environment and shows what can be achieved by an engaged community and elected representatives who are prepared to listen.

“What we saw here was a good example of how local feeling was listened to, facilitated by responsive county councillors Lesley Game and Ros Binks, and the correct course of action followed. People power does work.

“I would question why KCC failed to consult TDC’s biodiversity team at the earliest opportunity. Lines of communication could be improved in my opinion. I hope this will be reviewed.

“The winner, however, is Foreness Point which is evolving into a nationally significant biodiverse haven for increasingly threatened pollinators.”


  1. These caterpillars absolutely decimate ornamental trees….so all the residents along the Ridings can thank these councillors for their Eco credentials…

  2. The tree huggers would rather people die than see these pest caterpillars be exterminated. I can’t believe how thick some people are. I hope a few caterpillars find themselves on to a few tree huggers skin the huggers will soon change there tune.

  3. What is more important – ornamental trees or protecting our biodiversity? Seems some should reassess their priorities.

  4. Jane I can say without fear, the animals be it an Ant or an Elephant a Sea Horse or a Whale every creature has a place a reason for living on this planet but we humans have to destroy every thing in its path, we are the only ones destroying this world we live in. What has happened here the few have spoken up for the creatures as if KCC had had its way not only would the catepillars be killed but the other creatures on the trees or those that eat them birds, hedgehogs etc and all because of us getting a skin irritation, what do creatures do if something is going to harm them they leave it alone they learn these things because of years learning from their ancestors etc if we teach our children what is going to harm and they must not touch them we would not destroy/decimate the creatures of this world.

    • I fully agree with protecting the caterpillars – and all other creatures. I am aghast that some think their ornamental trees are more important.

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