A stunned mum thought Halloween was coming early after spotting giant cobwebs covering trees and bushes at her local park.
Sarah Longfellow, 34, first thought the foliage was covered in “silly threads” or “fake snow” before noting the silken nests at Lock Lane community garden in Castleford, West Yorkshire, England, were populated by thousands of insects.
The mother, who has a severe arachnophobia, admitted that she was initially “snuck out” by the cobwebs that had enveloped an entire tree and several bushes overnight.
But as she got closer to her hypnotized son Cain, 3, she said her fear turned to “fascination” at the rare display of nature – even when one ended up in her mouth.
She said: “When we went there it just looked like Halloween had come early but then I noticed the nets were real.
“At first I thought it was spiders I was afraid of but my son loves them.
“However, as we got closer, it turned out to be caterpillars in and under the webs, and then it became more and more intriguing to me.
She added: “I panicked a bit when one accidentally went in my mouth and I was worried I might have a reaction. I didn’t know what would happen.
“But when I looked online, they said they weren’t poisonous and harmless to humans.”
Longfellow, a council technical support office from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, in northern England, said she first spotted the mass of nets last week while out with her son.
She said: “When I first saw her, I was driving by on May 22nd.
“We were on our way to a party and I thought someone sprayed some bushes with a silly string – it looked like snow.
“On the way back I stopped because I thought it was a bit strange and then I thought there would be a lot of spiders.
“But I was glad they turned out to be caterpillars, and my son liked them too, the way he loves them The hungry caterpillar Book.”
Longfellow said the insects had completely taken over the trees, plants and railings on one side of the park.
She said: “The caterpillars were all under the nets – it was so extraordinary – and they had also covered a number of bushes.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. They hung from the trees and blew in the wind.
Longfellow said she looked online to find out what type of caterpillar it was after one unfortunately ended up in her mouth.
She said: “I googled them after one accidentally went in my mouth and it turned out they’re called ermine moths.
“When I looked online, it said they were non-toxic and harmless to humans, and an expert confirmed they were non-toxic.
She added: “Apparently they build these nets to protect themselves from birds. They shed all the leaves and have cocoons and later turn into moths.”
The webs can actually contain thousands of caterpillars, which usually appear in May or June.
The moths that later hatch are white or greyish with black spots and resemble ermine fur clothing.
This story was provided to Newsweek by Zenger News.
https://www.newsweek.com/woman-thought-halloween-came-early-after-finding-giant-cobwebs-park-1711867 Woman thought Halloween was coming early after finding giant cobwebs in park