It seems the very hungry caterpillar may have come to Lancashire, as an army of bugs have cocooned hedges and walls in a silk-like web.
The phenomenon has been spotted in Buckshaw Village, where bushes and shrubs have been covered by the spooky-looking webs, and then devoured by critters.
Experts say the impressive sights have been assisted by the recent warm weather, and have assured gardeners not to worry.
Tom Clare, reserve manager at Martin Mere, explained: “Generally, it’s what’s called an Ermine moth, and it’s the caterpillars of them.”
He said different species within the moth group fed on different plants, and said: “The moths lay the eggs in the spindle tree, or whatever tree it is, caterpillars hatch out and as they are feeding they tend to make the silk that they wrap around the tree as a bit of protection.
“They feed on that tree, eat the leaves and hatch and fly out into adult moths.
“It can damage the tree, obviously the caterpillars will eat all the leaves, it depends how big the infestation is.
“If you’ve got one hedge made up of one species and the moths lay their eggs, then that entire hedge could get covered in this silk.”
Tom said the silk didn’t usually spread to walls, but could do if there were many of the caterpillars.
He said: “It’s just the time of year really, the adults have started to emerge and are starting to breed.
“These webs will disappear when the larvae have hatched and, depending on the weather later in the year, we might get another lot coming through.
“We’ve got really nice weather at the moment so that’s why they are appearing, if we get a really cold end of summer or a lot of rain we probably won’t see it happening quite as badly.”
He said garden birds could feed on the caterpillars, but said: “The silk web is really created to try to protect the caterpillars from the birds, so it can cover a large area.
Tom said gardeners needn’t be alarmed by the webs.
He said: “The tree should come back the year later, it shouldn’t kill the entire tree off – it might if it’s a really bad infestation but it should be okay.”
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