It is a strange sight to see a hedgerow covered in silken webs, and underneath the webbing evidence of all the greenery eaten away. However despite its oddity it is a common sight in summer in some parts of England

Contained within these webs are hiding hundreds if not thousands of caterpillars, and in the UK at least they are most likely to belong to a group of moths called the Small Ermine moths. The ones here are most likely to be Orchard Ermine Yponomeuta padella as these hedgerow mostly contained blackthorn and hawthorn, but they could also be Spindle Ermine or Bird-Cherry Ermine. Unlike the processionary caterpillars I posted about in Portugal, these larvae are harmless to humans and pets and incredibly the hedgerows and trees will recover. However the advice remains – always be cautious of caterpillar webs and hairy caterpillars just in case they are some of the dangerous ones.

If you or your blogging friends have not yet joined in the web of squares then I would be delighted if you or them did this week. We are looking for square photographs whose subject matter is;

  • Differing from the usual or not happening often (ie oddballs, the exceptions and follies)
  • Separated from its set or mate (eg odds and ends or maybe odd socks or shoes)
  • Not divisible exactly by two (ie odd numbers) or the number is unknown (ie 70 odd birds)

It is a month to have fun exploring oddness and discovering oddities. Here’s the challenge image which tells you a little bit more about what is involved, but all you and your friends really need remember is that at least one the images needs to have 4 equal sides!

100 thoughts

  1. We had two years of Gypsy Moth caterpillars. They were imported here from Europe (England, I think) in 1869 as an experiment. Someone was convinced they could produce silk. They were left in a cup on a windowsill in a lab in Boston and escaped. In the 153 years since they were loosed in this country, they have destroyed millions of acres of hard wood trees from here to Vancouver in Canada. They destroyed all the black oaks in Pennsylvania — and killed off orchards and pine trees. Pines don’t regrow when stripped to bare wood, though usually oaks and other hardwood recover if they were healthy to begin with.

    They showed up early in the summers of 2015 and 2016. They covered everything — trees, cars, grass, pavement. They fell from the trees and landed on the car when you drove. Thump. Thump. Thump. Like being pelted with snowballs. The driveway was writhing with them. Garry was allergic, so he could only go outside dressed in long sleeves and big hat, and gloves, I was so horrified and grossed out, I never left the house until they had eaten everything and disappeared. They stripped every tree on our property and in this part of the valley. They ate all the leaves from the apple trees. Every oak was bare to the bark. You could — no kidding — HEAR them eating the leaves. It was awful.

    They came back the following year, but luckily, we got rain which makes a fungus grow that kills them before they lay eggs. They didn’t come round for a third year which was good, because I don’t think the trees would have survived one more year.

    It’s good that the hedges recover. Hardwood and fruit trees usually recover, but not always. it was not a great year for apples. I should find those pictures. it was eerie seeing naked trees in the middle of summer. I’m not real fond of insects in general, but I have a morbid fear of caterpillars who eat trees.


  2. I love these, especially the photo with all the webs. That’s a lot of caterpillars! I’ve been on drives through hedgerows in the English countryside. Sometimes, because the hedges are so tall, I don’t see anything beyond, it can get a little claustrophobic. Once a friend nearly ran over a pheasant. It was night, so the road wasn’t too clear.

    Here are my odd photos today:

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  3. Odd as it may sound, Becky, I have never seen anything like this in the hedgerows of Cheshire. I’ve probably been looking at the wrong hedgerows. They must be there – we have lots of caterpillars, moths and butterflies in the Summer. My post today fires a few sparks:

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    1. Last year was the first time I had ever seen it in Hampshire. Apparently East Anglia sees this a lot but maybe Cheshire is a tad too far north

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  4. I remember coming upon a couple of shrubs in the middle of the forest that were completely covered with webs like this. But very concentrated, two shrubs and that was it. I had seen the odd web before but never a complete shrub, bare of all leaves, like this. I checked it out and as you say: the shrubs recover once the caterpillars have crawled on their merry way. Very odd.

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