Wednesday, May 27, 2009


This is what happens when you park your car too long in Rotterdam.

Instead of using a bright yellow clamp to impound your vehicle, it's moulded to the ground – thanks to a giant silk web spun by tens of thousands of little minions. In reality, this car (we think it's a Honda but it's hard to tell) was attacked by thousands of spindle ermine moth caterpillars, which were in search of food after devouring a nearby tree in a car park in the Dutch city. Stuart Hine, an insect expert from the British Natural History Museum, said they spin webs for protection from wasps and birds before they pupate. With eight types of ermine moths in these isles, their webs can be seen on hedgerows. Most people think they are spiders' webs, however, and back away very quickly. 'They spin them over large areas and tend to migrate when they've used up one tree. I've never heard of them spinning over a car before but why not?' said Mr Hine. 'It only takes a few days. But we aren't talking about anything from Indiana Jones here. They can bear a bit of weight but the car owner will be able to back the car out and clean it.' And such sights may be seen more often as the moths' favoured tree – the spindle – is often used in car parks and on motorway verges.

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