General safety advice

  Preparation and things to take when you go out While dressing to leave the house: Cover exposed skin by wearing long sleeved tops and trousers. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin – repellents that contain 50% DEET (diethyltoluamide) are most effective. Avoid using products with strong perfumes, such as soaps, shampoos and deodorants –… More General safety advice

Parsnip plant

What does it look like?  Why is it dangerous? Handling the parsnip plant, which grows wild and is cultivated in gardens and allotments, may make your skin very sensitive to light, leading to burning, blisters and a painful rash. The plant’s sap  contains chemicals called furoumarins. These chemicals are absorbed by the skin and can… More Parsnip plant

Poisonous plants

What do they look like? Below, we list some of Britain’s deadliest plants.  Foxgloves This beautiful flower, known as foxglove or digitalis purpurea, grows wild and in many a British garden. The commonest colour, usually seen in the wild, is purple. It is in the top ten list of the commonest causes of accidental poisoning… More Poisonous plants


What do they look like? A wide variety of plants found in the British countryside have thorns that can scratch or tear the skin and cause bleeding. They include: wild roses or briars, raspberries which grow in upright “canes” blackberry bushes, also known as brambles, which form vast messy clumps, often entwined among other plants… More Thorns

Giant hogweed

What does it look like? Giant hogweed is a fairly spectacular looking plant, because it is taller than an adult and can reach as much as five metres tall. It usually looks untidy, and it has white flowers which grow in large clusters reminiscent of cow parsley. It often grows along footpaths and riverbanks. If… More Giant hogweed

Stinging nettles

What do they look like? Stinging nettles are low plants with small leaves which often grow alongside country paths, or in large patches on the ground in forest or wooded areas. Their leaves are not particularly distinctive and so it is important to pay attention to plants you may brush up against. It is most… More Stinging nettles

Deer and Cows

What do they look like?  Deer Cows Why can they be dangerous? Deer are aggressive and potentially dangerous animals, in all seasons. The females are very protective when they have fawns, from spring through the summer. The males are particularly aggressive during the rutting season, from October to December, as they are fuelled by testosterone.… More Deer and Cows


What do they look like? The only poisonous snake in Britain is the adder. It is recognisable by the black, zig-zag stripes along its entire back and its red eyes with a vertical slit. Why are they dangerous? About 100 people in Britain get bitten by adders each year. The last time someone died was… More Adders

Hairy caterpillars (Oak processionary moth)

What do they look like? These caterpillars walk up and down trees in nose-to-tail processions. If you find them, or spot one of their white silken nests, report it to the Forestry Commission or to your local council. The caterpillars of the oak processionary moth are classified as a public health hazard and the authorities destroy… More Hairy caterpillars (Oak processionary moth)

Biting spiders

What do they look like? False widow spider False widow spider: They grow to 2 centimetres across and are a dark brown colour with a bulbous abdomen. This spider has a well-deserved reputation as Britain’s most dangerous spider. The spiders are not usually aggressive although adult female false widow spiders are known to have bitten humans. Symptoms… More Biting spiders