Hungry caterpillars cover trees in ghostly webs

Blackleaf

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 9, 2004
46,458
1,368
113

Ghostly caterpillar webs cover Bedford trees​

5th June 2021
BBC News

Caterpillar webbing on trees
The webs cover a large section of trees at the side of a road

Hungry caterpillars have covered a 100ft (30m) expanse of trees in a huge ghostly-looking web.


The webbing has been created by ermine moth caterpillars along a stretch of the A5134 close to Bedford.

They do it to protect themselves from predatory birds while they are feeding.

Caterpillar expert Andy Banthorpe said the vast webbing could indicate a "caterpillar population explosion" after last year's warm summer, but it, and the caterpillars, were harmless.

Mr Banthorpe, joint county moth recorder for Bedfordshire, has been out to see the webs and said they were "quite fantastic", but agreed they could look quite spooky.

"It looks quite ghostly, like some superb, natural Halloween display a few months too early," he said.

Caterpillar webbing
The webs are created to protect the hungry caterpillars from predators, while they feed on the leaves

Caterpillar webbing
The trees are at the side of a busy road into Bedford

"Don't worry, you're not suddenly going to get enveloped by it as you stand chatting to your friends along the road."

The giant web is "the larval feeding web of a small moth called the spindle ermine", he said.

"There are eight species of these little moths in this country and they feed on different plants - and in this case it's feeding on a plant called the common spindle.

"The larval web is silk that the caterpillars excrete," he said.

Caterpillar webbing
A close-up shows some of the caterpillars in a small section of web

"They create this big silken web to stop the birds getting at them so they can feed on the leaves of the plant."

Mr Banthorpe said the caterpillars on that stretch of the road had "completely eaten all the leaves" from some of the trees.

"It's just one of these natural, wonderful phenomena that you see occasionally," he added.

Caterpillar webbing on trees
The webs should gradually disappear over the summer months

The charity Butterfly Conservation said on its website that although the "ghostly silken webbing... can look rather sinister", the caterpillars were harmless.

It said the webs would gradually disappear over the summer.

Dr Phil Sterling, from the charity, said even if leaves were stripped from trees and shrubs, the plants would survive, and "by the end of July, it will be like the caterpillars weren't there".

 

spaminator

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 26, 2009
29,174
1,254
113

Ghostly caterpillar webs cover Bedford trees​

5th June 2021
BBC News

Caterpillar webbing on trees
The webs cover a large section of trees at the side of a road

Hungry caterpillars have covered a 100ft (30m) expanse of trees in a huge ghostly-looking web.


The webbing has been created by ermine moth caterpillars along a stretch of the A5134 close to Bedford.

They do it to protect themselves from predatory birds while they are feeding.

Caterpillar expert Andy Banthorpe said the vast webbing could indicate a "caterpillar population explosion" after last year's warm summer, but it, and the caterpillars, were harmless.

Mr Banthorpe, joint county moth recorder for Bedfordshire, has been out to see the webs and said they were "quite fantastic", but agreed they could look quite spooky.

"It looks quite ghostly, like some superb, natural Halloween display a few months too early," he said.

Caterpillar webbing
The webs are created to protect the hungry caterpillars from predators, while they feed on the leaves

Caterpillar webbing
The trees are at the side of a busy road into Bedford

"Don't worry, you're not suddenly going to get enveloped by it as you stand chatting to your friends along the road."

The giant web is "the larval feeding web of a small moth called the spindle ermine", he said.

"There are eight species of these little moths in this country and they feed on different plants - and in this case it's feeding on a plant called the common spindle.

"The larval web is silk that the caterpillars excrete," he said.

Caterpillar webbing
A close-up shows some of the caterpillars in a small section of web

"They create this big silken web to stop the birds getting at them so they can feed on the leaves of the plant."

Mr Banthorpe said the caterpillars on that stretch of the road had "completely eaten all the leaves" from some of the trees.

"It's just one of these natural, wonderful phenomena that you see occasionally," he added.

Caterpillar webbing on trees
The webs should gradually disappear over the summer months

The charity Butterfly Conservation said on its website that although the "ghostly silken webbing... can look rather sinister", the caterpillars were harmless.

It said the webs would gradually disappear over the summer.

Dr Phil Sterling, from the charity, said even if leaves were stripped from trees and shrubs, the plants would survive, and "by the end of July, it will be like the caterpillars weren't there".

send them to china. ;) 🇨🇳
 

Danbones

Hall of Fame Member
Sep 23, 2015
24,511
2,200
113


We are taking hits! I repeat we are taking hits! They are MOWING us DOWN! LOOK Up! Dammit!!! They're IN THE TREES!!! THEY ARE IN THE TREES!!!
 

Danbones

Hall of Fame Member
Sep 23, 2015
24,511
2,200
113
Apparently their toe nail polish is sufficient camouflage - as long as it's a fruit tree.
 
  • Like
Reactions: petros

Blackleaf

Hall of Fame Member
Oct 9, 2004
46,458
1,368
113
I think I've got some in one of my gardens. A hedge separating one of my gardens from a next door garden is covered in webs.