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Added: 30th May 2011 Description:
Whilst cycling along a green lane in the Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales we came across a massive infestation of caterpillars which had completely stripped many of the leaves of the hedge and completely coated the entire hedge with silk. The caterpillars were all very small, 1-2cm long, dark with a light banding pattern
Confidence: It might be this. Notes: From searching on the web I've come across descriptions of Ermine Moth caterpillars that appear to show the behaviour observed.
The caterpillars were feeding on hedgerow bushes making part of a well established green lane.
They were 1-2cm long, dark coloured, with light banding and clustered together in large balls and strings hanging from the silk webs coating the hedge.
Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be. Notes: To get a species you would really need to tell us what plant they are on. The common one we get in the north defoliates Bird Cherry, but other related moths feed on other plants.
Confidence: I'm as sure as I can be. Notes: These are ermine moths, but as suggested above it's difficult to suggest a species without knowing what they were feeding on (and even then it's not always straightforward!)
No interactions present.
Other observations of
a small ermine moth ( Yponomeuta)