It is a plague of biblical proportions and a feast for tens of thousands of caterpillar-like larvae. The little worms are munching on the bark of ash trees in a housing estate in South Belfast. Can’t see the wood for the trees? No. Can’t see the trees because of the larvae. Several of the ash trees have been almost stripped bare by the munching minnies. Local residents Adib Ma’ani and his wife Bahia spotted them. The couple spent several days trying to work out just what was going on. They got in touch with officials, but they were baffled and couldn’t come up with any answers. Next stop the local media.
“It’s a bit disconcerting,” Adib told the local BBC
South Belfast: Whole lotta larvae infest trees in Belvoir estate – BBC News
A plague of very hungry caterpillar-type larvae are munching their way through trees in south Belfast.
“We’ve posted some images and video on social media but our friends are enjoying this much more than we are.”
larvae infest trees in Belvoir estate https://t.co/TApozHSt6g we had Black Ash Sawfly in Manchester – is this the same?
UlsterWildlife</a></p>— Michael Savage (MSAssocs) June 8, 2016
Finally it emerged the larvae are from the ash sawfly. Andrew Crory is a moth expert with the Ulster Wildlife Trust and it was he who came up with the answer. But why did they turn up in force at this time? He reckons a period of warm weather may have started the infestation and added: “Everything in the insect world goes in cycles of boom and bust. It’s uncommon and it’s always spooky when you see it.”
More experts – from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs will be on their way to give their assessment of the invasion and decide of any action is to be taken. In the mean time some local residents have been trying getting up close and personal with the binging creatures only to discover if they stand under the trees the larvae rain down on their heads.
"If you listen carefully you can hear them eating the foliage. And if you stand under the trees, the larvae rain down on your head."— Podbert (@cupofcrow) June 8, 2016