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They protect themselves with webbing tents and shed urticating hairs onto them just like Brown-tailed moth caterpillars. These can travel quite some distance on the wind and cause dangerous skin and breathing reactions on susceptible people.
More information in:
Brown tail moth larvae (Euproctis chrysorrhoea) ecology in the UK Channon D., Ramsden M., Trelawney A., Wallace H. International Pest Control March/April 2009, 51, 2, pp 90-92.

Many thanks for that, they do look to be a real nuisance.

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