Have you ever noticed hedges that are cloaked in dense silken webbing before? The above picture may leave you with feelings of discomfort, but surprisingly this isn’t the work of spiders as one may have initially thought, instead it is the efforts of the voracious Ermine moth.
What are Ermine Moths?
Small Ermine moths are known to leave a path of destruction behind them, leaving hedges defoliated and full of extensive webbing that spans a vast surface area. Surprisingly, these webs will not usually appear in October to mark the season of Halloween, instead, they tend to materialise between April and July.
The most likely plants to be affected include:
- Hawthorn (Crataegus)
- Bird cherry (Prunus padus)
- Prunus spp
These creatures (pictured below) have white wings (which can span between 8-31mm) with black-spotted style markings.
But why do they create such a veil of webbing over hedges and plants?
I’m glad you asked! They do this as a result of their evolution as a species. When in their caterpillar stage, Ermine moths will create large webs in order to protect themselves from potential predators and parasites. Furthermore, this also facilitates their large appetite by allowing themselves to feed freely without the worry about coming into contact with other creatures. Once fully satisfied, Ermine moths will then spin themselves in a hard cocoon until they pupate and transition from caterpillars into moths.
Control and the effect on hedges
The effects are most likely to be more detrimental on smaller hedges and plants, however, the good news for hedge fans, is that the efforts of Ermine months should not pose any long-term health implications to the hedge or plant. However, it is worth mentioning that the larvae of Ermine moths can damage crops and plants, as large quantities of eggs tend to be produced during mating periods, therefore, this is something to be mindful of.
To sum up, if you’re faced with an invasion of Ermine months then it’s best not to panic, they tend to be harmless in most cases and their infestation may only last a month or two, and typically by the time summer arrives their webs will have disappeared and your hedge plants will start to make a full recovery.
However, if you have come to the conclusion that you would prefer to try and get rid of the moths and their webbing as quickly as possible, then we have a solution for you. To tackle the webbing head on you could try spraying a generous amount of insecticide on the affected area, using exceptional force to try and break the thick webs. Although if you can, try and keep the spray away from any plants in flower as this may cause some unnecessary further damage.
We hope this helps you, and next time you see a hedge covered in webs you will know exactly who the culprit is and why.
If you have any more questions please get in touch with us and let us know.