The trees lining the avenues in Sutton Road Cemetery, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, appear a ghostly white, with their branches stripped bare of any foliage and incased in a shroud of white caterpillar silk, which has the texture of cling film. The trees look like a snow covered scene from the Chronicles of Narnia, but this is June and the summer sun is shining.
It's all due to the work of the work of the Bird cherry tree ermine moth, which has cocooned the trees for the protection of the caterpillars ~ known as web worms ~ until they become adult moths.
An entomologist in the area said that it has happened before on a much smaller scale, but this year has obviously had perfect conditions for them and that the overnight spectacle would be a once in a lifetime occurrence. He said the reason they have covered the ground and surrounding monuments and benches, is due to them starving and falling to the ground in search of food once the supply of leaves had run out.
The local authority has decided not to spray the trees with anything, but to monitor the progress and the moths are expected to hatch in July.