Beachgoers are being warned to be extra vigilant after toxic caterpillars were spotted on a popular Essex beach.
There are fears we're amid an outbreak of the Brown Tail moths caterpillars with numerous sightings on Jaywick Sands Beach.
The critters can be harmful for people, causing itchy skin, but are most dangerous to dogs.
According to a resident the caterpillars have been hatching from the Brecon on the beach and crawling over the footpath into the gardens of surrounding houses since the weekend (April 23), reports EssexLive.
They claimed that the main outbreak is located on the beach at the top of Sea Pink Way.
Brown Tail moths usually come out during the springtime and can be found near vegetation.
The caterpillar releases irritant hairs into the air which can cause skin irritation and can affect some people quite severely, as well as proving potentially dangerous to dogs.
Brown Tail Moths are brown, has a dotted white line down each side and two very distinctive red dots on the back of their tail.
According to Bulldogology, these insects can cause some serious discomfort to your puppy through tummy aches, diarrhoea or even lesions – making the caterpillars potentially toxic to man's best friend.
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Dog owners have also been warned that dogs may inadvertently fall victim to the toxic effects of the chemicals in insecticides too if owners choose to spray them to remove the insects.
Insecticide is such a popular way to get rid of such pests but could also prove to be toxic to your four-legged friend.
However, if your dog picks up one of the creatures on its body, non-haired areas of the body can be affected by rashes or dermatitis, in areas such as the abdomen, muzzle or shaved udders.
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As a whole though, animals are less susceptible to skin problems when in skin contact with Brown Tail moths.
You can spot an infestation by keeping an eye out for the individual caterpillars, for trees or bushes that have lost all their leaves or the 'tents' which the caterpillars make for shelter.
If these 'tents' disturbed they can release the irritant hairs so wear protective gear if trying to get rid of them.
The Brown Tail Moth caterpillar is not a recognised public health pest therefore most local authorities will not treat areas affected.
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