LEWISTON, N.Y. (WIVB) — A creepy looking caterpillar is to blame for a web like structure that showed up on trees & shrubs in Lewiston on Upper Mountain Road.
Neighbor, Baligh Abuhammed, said, “It looks like the tree kind of built its own veil.”
People from all over the town have noticed a white “web” like substance on shrubs near Mount St. Mary’s Hospital.
Abuhammed said, “At the beginning I thought somebody was playing a hoax, but it looks like it’s some sort of an insect that did this,”
It turns out a special type of Tent Caterpillar that turns into an Ermine Moth is responsible for the web.
While some may think the webs are spooky, Cheryl Tyndall, Curator for the Butterfly Conservatory in Niagara Falls, Ontario said the opposite.
She said, “They are absolutely spectacular. Really anybody living in the area should go out there and take a look at this because it’s not something they are going to see very often.”
That’s why many lifelong Western New Yorkers have never seen the phenomenon before.
Tyndall said, “You almost need the perfect storm to actually get to see that kind of structure being formed.”
What is that perfect storm? A mild winter, a warm spring, and a hot summer! But how do the caterpillars create such an intricate web? Little colonies, joining on to other colonies of eggs, make this massive elaborate structure. The web itself is basically a home for the caterpillar to survive in and feed itself safely.
And these caterpillars don’t choose just any tree to do so. They are very particular, similar to human beings choosing a home.
Tyndall stated, “A lot of them feed only on one or two type of plants or maybe a small selection of different plants. So that particular moth if I’m correct in its identification only feeds on that particular type of tree. So I’m guessing, if you went underneath all of that webbing you would find a type of Spindle Unanimous.”
If you’re lucky enough to see one of these webs around town, stop and take a minute to look at one of nature’s little miracles.
Tyndall says you can expect to see the moths sometime in mid to late June.