Creepy cobwebs: caterpillars bring ghostly look.
'Spooky' caterpillars shroud trees in cobwebs.
Hoax or Fact:
Various pictures floating around internet space claim to show Caterpillars shroud Trees in cobwebs bringing a 'Spooky' look. Yes, the images are genuine, the claim is a fact.
What They Are
What appears like a frost or spider's webs covered over the trees are actually infestation of thousands and thousands of small, Bird Cherry Ermine Moth caterpillars (Yponomeuta evonymella). Unlike spider’s web, the cobwebs of Ermine Moths are thicker and cover a vast area. Ermine Moths lay eggs on plants their caterpillars can feed on when they hatch. The large communal silvery webs made by the larvae also hang from the trees and are meant to protect the caterpillars from parasites and predators like birds. Wasp parasites, however, knock them back a bit. There are varieties of ermine moth that live in the United Kingdom, some of them even stripping the trees bare.
In July 2011, there was an outbreak of these caterpillar cobwebs in Shipley Hall Fields of Bradford, England, where they reportedly stripped bare 15 fully grown trees, and the area became empty of people. In Sutton Road Cemetery in Southend-On-Sea, Essex, millions of caterpillars, with their ghostly white appearance, turned a graveyard into a spooky scene from a horror film. The cobwebs are also seen in Cambridge, even covering pavements, benches, gravestones, walls and cars on a street in Hampton, south-west London.
The video shows a close up view of bird cherry ermine caterpillar webs. Shown in Image Gallery are some such wonderful (and ghostly) pictures of cobwebs mostly taken in year 2013. The last picture, which is popular online, however, shows trees cocooned in spider webs near Dadu, in Pakistan's Sindh province.
Coming back to the ermine moth flies, they are nocturnal species that usually emerge during July and August months. The moth's larvae that make the large webs for protection are about an inch long. The resulting caterpillars known as 'web worms', do not cause any damage to the headstones and benches with their temporary natural phenomenon, but can cause severe damage to plants and trees, although they usually recover once the moths have flown off as adults.
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