The Daily Telegraph

Caterpilla­r army spins ghostly veil


ARMIES of caterpilla­rs have invaded fields near York, covering hedgerows in ghostly, silken webs.

The shrubs, along the A661 between Harrogate and Spofforth, have turned white yard by yard as the insects have coated them in webbing.

Naturalist­s say the tens of thousands of caterpilla­rs devouring the leaves are those of ermine moths.

Dr Callum Macgregor, of Butterfly Conservati­on Yorkshire, said: “The caterpilla­rs of this species feed in very large groups, and as they move around the plant eating its leaves, they each produce a trail of silk.

“Collective­ly, this creates a large silken web, which offers the caterpilla­rs a layer of protection against birds.

The caterpilla­rs will feed for a few weeks and then pupate, after which the web will break down and disappear.

“By late summer it will be gone, and the plant will be able to make a full recovery,” Dr Macgregor said.

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