Country diary: Caterpillars have turned my bird cherry tree into a ghost – Rights History
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Country diary: Caterpillars have turned my bird cherry tree into a ghost

Allendale, Northumberland: This year they’ve taken the table and chairs, too, and a line of rosemary bushes

From across the vegetable garden, it’s a ghost tree, a solarised photograph of a tree against a green background of sycamore and hawthorn. Each year the leafy tips of this bird cherry are covered in the taut spun tents of ermine moth caterpillars, Yponomeuta evonymella. This year the entire tree is encased in a pale, sheen-like opaque clingfilm.

I look up its trunks and they are silvered to the top. The work of the caterpillars has encased foliose lichens, trapped fallen nascent cherries and shrouded the trunks in stockinged silk. It’s eerie and fascinating, and more of a spectacle than in most years; the moths breed in boom-and-bust cycles.

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