Residents are living in fear after an army of toxic caterpillars infested a street in Braintree.

Hedges along Tabor Avenue are home to thousands of caterpillars, which were thought to be oak processionary moth caterpillars by a resident.

Hairs on the caterpillars can cause sore throats, painful rashes, eye irritations and breathing difficulties.

Sequoyah Dixon, 29, lives on the road with her four children.

She said: “About three or four weeks ago I noticed all the cobwebs, I thought it was spiders.

“About a week later I noticed more, there were loads and they were wiggling and I noticed they were caterpillars.

“I have never seen them in a web like that, we were fascinated by them at first then I saw a post online about oak processionary moths and it said they are invading England and London.

“Every hedge on my street is infested with a nest of up to 60.”

Miss Dixon has contacted a number of authorities with her concerns, including Braintree Council, Environmental Health and the Forestry Commission.

The oak caterpillars live almost exclusively in oak trees and can affect the health of humans, animals and plants. Information from the Forestry Commission says the caterpillars are known to only be present in London and some neighbouring counties.

Miss Dixon said: “I’m quite concerned about this and think other people should be warned.

“I do say to the kids to stay away, but I have noticed some of the cocoons are empty so they are obviously crawling off.

“I have a small hedge between mine and my neighbour’s front garden and it is full of them.

“We will all be overrun by them.”

A spokesman for Greenfields Community Housing said: “We’ve been contacted by Braintree Council as we manage some properties along Tabor Avenue, and will visit to investigate the issue.

“Once we’ve found out what type of caterpillar is nesting and where, we will decide in partnership with the council what action is required.”

Braintree and Witham Times:

A Braintree Council spokesman said: We received a complaint relating to caterpillars in Tabor Avenue which we don’t believe are oak processionary moth caterpillars, but are instead from the brown tail moth.

"Greenfield’s Community Housing, who owns most of the properties on this road, are looking into this matter and the treatment of the caterpillars.”

The Brown tail moth is an insect native to the UK.

Its hairs have an irritant effect, similar to the oak processionary moth caterpillars, and can cause irritation if they come in contact with human skin.

Although they can be a health problem plant damage can also occur.