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default Cobweb mystery

Post by Dandelion on 31st May 2010, 3:42 pm

When driving to work each day we pass a couple of hedges in the hedgerow which are festooned with cobwebs - loads of it (It looks like something from Miss Haversham's house, or from the set of a Hammer horror film!) The hedges seems to be devoid of leaves underneath the cobwebs. It's a busy road with nowhere to stop, so we haven't been able to investigate - just wondered if anyone else had seen this, and could identify the cause?

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Post by Compostwoman on 31st May 2010, 3:54 pm

Its produced by the Spindle Ermine Moth caterpillar...( also there are Cherry and other sorts I think)

They hatch out, scoff the leaves, spin silk and then pupate...

Spindle, Wild Cherry and Blackthorn are the prefrered leaves around us Dandelion...which is why you are seeing so many in the hedges.

You know that is the 8th time I have answered that question in 4 days Cobweb mystery Icon_biggrin ...

Its a pretty white with black spots moth...
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Post by Dandelion on 31st May 2010, 4:03 pm

Thanks for clearing up that mystery, CW - I'll report back to my colleague at school who asked me if I knew what they were!!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Compostwoman on 31st May 2010, 4:06 pm

Glad to be of help!
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Post by Wilhelm Von Rhomboid on 31st May 2010, 5:48 pm

Look carefully - it doesn't say 'Some Pig' in the cobwebs does it?

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Post by Dandelion on 31st May 2010, 6:11 pm

Oh, I'd forgotten about Charlotte!!

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The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly in the air like birds and swim in the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers and sisters.

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Post by Mike on 1st June 2010, 2:12 pm

Arg yes.

We had (still have) a couple species of "tent caterpillers" of our own and then some idiots brought over one of yours (thought could use for silk!) and so now we have three in the eastern US woods. The problem is that each species "errupts" in large numbers every several years so now instead of (usually) two bad years every several we get three bad years every several, 50% worse.

In a bad year these can defoliate large swaths of forest. The trees usually do recover but some mortality in those that were marginal. When these critters are on the move (having eaten the leaves on the plant they were on) like an army on march.

The apparent purpose of the webbing during the feeding stage is to discourage predators. The "tent" where they congregate for the night is a sticky mess to get into.

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Post by Compostwoman on 1st June 2010, 2:15 pm

Its a bad year for them here Mike....some of our bird cherry trees are virtually leafless on the lower branches...I suspect the moths fly lower down and so never get to lay eggs up high in the trees or maybe higher up the caterpillars can be eaten more easily? but the swathes of silk are usually to be seen on hedgerows or below 20 ft on a tree....
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Post by Mike on 1st June 2010, 2:20 pm

Wish they had brought that species instead.

All of the ones we have here haven't the least difficulty in getting to the tops of trees. Nor would where the eggs laid make much difference as the critters climb. Eat one tree, lower self (selves) to ground on a silk thread, march en masse to find another tree, climb up and much. Like I said, during the day they spread out eating and then for the night return to the defense of the sticky "tent".

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Post by Compostwoman on 1st June 2010, 2:33 pm

Wonnder which ones you have...glad ours don't seem to exhibit THAT behaviour! Cobweb mystery Fresse
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Post by blue0901 on 7th August 2010, 11:10 am

So pleased you've given me a reason for my mysterious webs; but is there a solution to this problem and if so whats the best treatment?
thanks
n
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Post by Adrian on 7th August 2010, 12:17 pm

High pressure water jets will normally shift them Blue - welcome to the forum btw
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Post by Dandelion on 7th August 2010, 5:27 pm

The Brown Tail Moth and Lackey Moth also make protective web masses in trees in the UK - the received wisdom in dealing with these webs is to remove them (wearing rubber gloves or other protective gloves) and burn them, or seal them in a bad and put it in the dustbin. Presumably this would be for trees which are not completely infested.
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Post by Compostwoman on 7th August 2010, 6:48 pm

Do the caterpillars shed irritant hairs, then?
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Post by Dandelion on 7th August 2010, 10:02 pm

It's the Brown tail Moth which has irritating hairs - you can be affected by touching either the caterpillars themselves, or their nest which also has the hairs caught up in it.
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Post by Guest on 8th August 2010, 5:33 am

didn't they have about these moths on Springwatch? I seem to recall Simon King standing next to a hedgefull. And that although bad at the time, hazels could recover ... and other things?

Love the pic of the hens D Cobweb mystery Icon_biggrin but it just increases my pash for them ... still not sure I should but hope to go to CW's course to find out if I can look after hens.
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Post by blue0901 on 8th August 2010, 8:11 am

Thanks for the speedy reply badger, will give it a go.
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Post by Compostwoman on 8th August 2010, 12:06 pm

Elen Sentier wrote:didn't they have about these moths on Springwatch? I seem to recall Simon King standing next to a hedgefull. And that although bad at the time, hazels could recover ... and other things?

Love the pic of the hens D Cobweb mystery Icon_biggrin but it just increases my pash for them ... still not sure I should but hope to go to CW's course to find out if I can look after hens.

DL went on one of my courses Elen, and look what happened.

Hen Master, Compost Master, I am converting the world to the power of hens and compost, one soul at a time..

Sorry, went Cobweb mystery 813884 there Cobweb mystery Icon_redface
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Post by Guest on 8th August 2010, 1:36 pm

That sounds very Frank Herbert to me LOL
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Post by Compostwoman on 8th August 2010, 11:39 pm

I always fancy myself as a cross between a Bene Gesserit and Granny Wetherwax
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Post by Mike on 9th August 2010, 1:14 pm

Compostwoman wrote:Wonnder which ones you have...glad ours don't seem to exhibit THAT behaviour! Cobweb mystery Fresse

Sorry I missed the question. We have:

(native)
Malacosoma americanum (eastern tent caterpiller) likes black cherry but attacks other things too, makes the characteristic big "tents"

M. disstria (forest tent caterpiller) Prefers hardwoods other than black cherry and makes small pads rather than the communal tents

(introduced from your side)
Lymentridia disper (gypsey moth) Most hardwoods and will attack and kill softwoods, makes large tents. Introduced by an idiot named Leopold Trouvelot to Massuchesetts in 1869 for experiments to see if they could be bred for silk production but they easily escaped from his backyard lab and are now hopelessly well established.

The problem is that our forest coped OK with just two of these species irrupting every several years as trees can usually recover if they don't get hit two years in a row. And the native species didn't prefer the same species of trees. But three irruptions in as many years is a 50% increase in the damage.

For all of these, when they are finishing off their current tree and moving in search of another it's like an army on the march.
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