The picture above shows a problem we have on The Manston Road with our young Hedgerows and with the HSBC Hedge. You are looking at a clutch of caterpillars of The Brown Tail Moth
( Euproctis Chrysorrhoea).
The female lays eggs in autumn and small caterpillars (by the hundred) wrap themselves in a collective 'tent' of white gossamer to over-winter and then embark on a leaf stripping exercise on hawthorns in the spring. They strip all leaves and seem to kill young planting. They spread out from the plant with their original 'tent' on and keep eating and defoliating as they go. We have noticed they are also quite happy to strip our young cherry trees as well.
This picture shows the distinctive 'tent' wrapped around a twig from a hawthorn and caterpillars on the prowl. They have two distinctive spots on the rear of the abdomen and contact with them or their sloughed skins should be avoided. These little beggars have hairs that irritate and can cause severe rashes and irritate the eyes.
Control methods are to spray in spring before they spread out along the hedge or better still, cut off and burn the white 'tents' in the late autumn (Nov/Dec). We will need to check over 5000 plants this winter if we are to control the problem!