Creepy cobwebs stun shopping centre visitors

Visitors to Meole Brace retail park have been stopping to take pictures and videos of the ghostly silken webbing - PA
Visitors to Meole Brace retail park have been stopping to take pictures and videos of the ghostly silken webbing - PA

Anyone who has visited a Shropshire retail park in recent days will have seen the incredible spectacle of a hedge almost entirely covered in what appears, at first glance, to be a mass of sinister-looking spider webs.

But it's actually the work of thousands of busy caterpillars, who have returned to the same spot where they captivated residents in Shrewsbury back in 2021.

Visitors to the Meole Brace retail park have been stopping to take pictures and videos of the ghostly silken webbing to post on social media.

Speaking in 2021, John Hughes, development manager at Shropshire Wildlife Trust, said the occurrence is not as uncommon as people may assume.

The webs are the work of thousands of busy caterpillars - PA
The webs are the work of thousands of busy caterpillars - PA
The webs usually last from May to June - PA
The webs usually last from May to June - PA

The covering is essentially copious layers of silk that are spun by caterpillars to give themselves and their food source protection from predators, before they hatch into Ermine moths.

The webs usually last from May to June, and slowly disappear over the summer.

The covering is essentially copious layers of silk that are spun by caterpillars - PA
The covering is essentially copious layers of silk that are spun by caterpillars - PA
The occurrence is not as uncommon as people may assume - PA
The occurrence is not as uncommon as people may assume - PA

Mr Hughes said: "Classically you get this on hedgerows and you will get great lengths of hedgerow covered in what is in effect silk.

"They spin this web to give themselves protection and underneath the web they are chomping away on leaves and whatever."

In a few days the moths will hatch and fly away, and the web will disintegrate fairly quickly.

"It is quite common but spectacular, particularly when it covers a big area," Mr Hughes added. "It is completely harmless - unless you're a shrub, in which case you are getting eaten.

"Moths and plants have evolved together over history and various moth caterpillars will eat the leaves but the leaves will grow back – it is no different to pruning roses, you prune the roses and they grow back perfectly fine."