Friday, May 28, 2010

Ermine and Silk

Bird cherry Prunus padus has a predominantly northern distribution in Britain and it's a prominent feature of hedgerows in Co.Durham in late May.....

...... when it is often smothered in long racemes of flowers. This specimen was photographed ina  hedgerow at Wolsingham in Weardale.

But, just when flowering is at its peak ....

...silken tents begin to appear on the fresh young leaves. These are woven by small ermine moth caterpillars .....

... that create a communal protective tent within which they can safely feed. Other species of ermine moth infest hawthorns and spindle trees. Occasionally trees are so heavily infested that they can be completely defoliated and wrapped in a silken sheath....... producing a spectacle that sometimes attracts the attention of the national press.


  1. I've just read a week's worth of your postings and it's like a breath of fresh air. You have diverse habitats up there that offer up a wealth of interesting goodies. Thanks Phil, it was a delicious read.

  2. Thanks Toffeeapple, there is just so much to see at this time of year... and the days pass so quickly

  3. wow, no kidding--that dr. who bit is pretty crazy. what a bizarre sight!

  4. Hi Zoe, sometimes it is like something from another world!