THOSE of a nervous disposition look away now. These “sinister” looking webs have been spotted in hedges in East Dorset and are actually the work of moths.

The fascinating sight was spotted near Long Crichel by David Haselgrove who lives in Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Tracy Adams, farm conservation officer, said: “These sinister webs are spun by the larvae of the ermine moth as they feed. The shrub normally recovers from this mass defoliation. The moths are lovely and have furry little collars.”

She added: “There are a number of different ermine moth species and their larvae or caterpillars are almost certainly responsible for creating the large silken webs covering many of our hedgerows at the moment; for example caterpillars of the spindle ermine moth feed on leaves of the spindle bush. The plant normally recovers given time.”

According to the Royal Horticultural Society, ermine moths are at their most active between April and July and their larvae can reach 20mm in length and can feed “gregariously under the cover of dense silk webbing.”

Most small ermine moths emerge as adults in July or August.

As reported in the Daily Echo earlier this week, Cranborne Chase has just been awarded a £1.67m from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the Cranborne Chase and Chalke Valley Landscape Partnership.

It will be used to bring the ancient landscape back to life.