Caterpillars on trees – the arrival of those Ermine Moth Caterpillars got me all confused.

At first I thought it was a trendy new arts project for the middle of our trendy arty town of Lewes in England. Caterpillars On Trees the notice read but all I could see was caterpillars on hat. I am not caterpillar squeamish but I wouldn’t choose to wear them on my head, I thought.

Then I read the notice and realized that this might be for real. Even a couple of little caterpillars were reading the sign too.

Apparently they are Ermine moth caterpillars and they are an unusual sight in these parts but they can  cause a skin infection if handled. So thanks, Lewes District Council for the warning, I thought, looking at one of the cute little fellas.

Then I read on. Well it was the weekend I was feeling a bit slow with all those hints of weather changes with the high air pressure. Oh, they are in the trees, I realized. Well, in the tree that I had been standing next to with the caterpillar webs floating on the breeze above my head. Should I wear that hat after-all, I considered, amazed at the scene of arborial devastation around me.

This tree in the middle of town has been transformed into something from a cartoon science fiction movie about Armageddon, or maybe the cob-webbed covered world of Dickens’ Miss Haversham.

Those webs though are real and full of emerging caterpillars and it looks like they will take over the World.

For such cute little mutli-legged crawly things, they certainly know how to make an impact, these little Ermine Moth caterpillars. I have never seen anything like it before here in our civilised little town.

Not the end of the world though, according to that notice, the tree will probably recover. Lewes District Council tells us in their kindly and informative way.  The caterpillars won’t start weaving their way across our beds as we sleep either  – the council didn’t say that last bit but I am sure they would concur. So enjoy your visit to Lewes little caterpillars but choose somewhere else next time – my skin is still itching.


  1. Hi, I am English but currently living in Den Haag, Netherlands. We had these all over the place at around the same time you did. Thankfully the trees are starting to recover here as there were just twigs left! I was also told that they were crimson ermine moths or butterfly caterpillars,so that seems to be correct!

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