Technician Removed from Painted Apple Moth Rearing Project after Reaction to Moth Hairs

Painted Apple Moth Project Media Release

Monday 3 February 2003

Scientists and technicians working with the Painted Apple moth have reported serious reactions to Painted Apple Moth hairs.

PAM project scientist Max Suckling said one of the main public health concerns resulted from reactions to the moths urticating hairs. The hairs cause a nasty reaction resulting in painful and itchy rashes in the majority of the human population.

One technician's reaction has been so severe she can no longer work with the moths.

Dr Suckling said the researcher who was based in Christchurch had such a serious reaction to the moth hairs she can no longer work on the project. Ground spraying workers have also suffered from the effects of the hairs.

"Just about everyone who has had a reasonable level of exposure to the moths have developed some degree of reaction to the hairs."

In the United States people suffer such severe reactions to the gypsy moth, from the same family as the Painted Apple Moth, that infested parks and woodlands are closed during the height of the moth breeding cycle.

Last Friday Mount Albert HortResearch Insect Rearing Facility research associate Anne Barrington discovered a moth hair in her eye.

Ms Barrington said the pain from the moth hair was intense and she developed conjunctivitis type symptoms.

" I developed a sensitivity to the moth very quickly and it has meant that we have changed the way we do things here to limit the contact we have with the moth otherwise I break out in big itchy welts."

PAM projects director and chief technical officer Ian Gear said the notification of the reactions to the moths confirmed his fears about this pest.

"The impact this moth is having on the PAM project workers will be the same the public would suffer if the moth was allowed to establish here."

" In many areas of New Zealand the public cannot enjoy a carefree outing in the bush because of wasps. An infestation of Painted Apple Moth in our native forests could cause authorities to close areas to the public during the height of the moth breeding season because of the impact it could have on public health."

"We strongly advise anyone who thinks they have come in contact with a Painted Apple Moth to seek medical attention."

For further information please contact:
Ian Gear, Painted Apple Moth Project Director
Phone: 0-4-474 4275 or 0-25-223 1748 Email: Web:



Last Updated: 30 September 2010

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