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Hungry caterpillars chomp through park

PUBLISHED: 14:20 27 May 2008 | UPDATED: 13:19 05 October 2010

Invaders in the park and (inset) counter offernsive by the spray squad

Invaders in the park and (inset) counter offernsive by the spray squad

IT LOOKS like the work of Spiderman or perhaps some urban Shelob. But the reality was a mass invasion in London’s East End. The fine webs covering the railings and bushes spotted by passers-by in Bethnal Green were created by an army of caterpillars.

By Michael Parker

IT LOOKS like the work of Spiderman or perhaps some urban Shelob.

But the reality was a mass invasion in London's East End.

The fine webs covering the railings and bushes spotted by passers-by in Bethnal Green were created by an army of caterpillars.

The hungry fellas had chomped their way through the leaves of at least 10 bushes in at Bethnal Green Gardens.

Thousands swarmed on the branches, stripping all the leaves on the bushes before anyone could stop them.

An entomologist from Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park nature centre, Ken Greenway, came down to identify the white and black caterpillars.

"They're a type of Ermine Moth caterpillar," he declared.

"They're a small group of moths that feed on specific plants such as cherry, spindle, willow and apple.

"What you've seen is unusual, but not rare. These plants can easily cope with such hungry beasts."

Even so, the hungry creepie crawlies got through every single leaf over a 30ft stretch of heldge along the park railings.

Ken added: "I hope the council don't overreact and spray the little guys to death."

But sure enough, two days later Tower Hamlets council sent in a squad to cut short the caterpillars' lease of life. They blasted them from their new 'feeding stations' with power hose water jets.

The creepies didn't stand a chance.

michael.parker@archant.co.uk


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