The bird cherry trees that line the left hand side of the road going up to the Sports and Social Club have been stripped completely bare by an infestation of caterpillars – and only three weeks ago they were in full blossom! They have now been turned a ghostly white by the actions of the native bird cherry ermine moth (Yponomeuta evonymella) caterpillars which have spun fine white webs around the branches. However, the trees will grow back and should be in reasonable health next year. There must be thousands of the pale, creamy-yellow caterpillars, each measuring just under 1in (2.5cm) in length. The ermine moth caterpillars only eat the bird cherry tree – and these at Kineton seem to have been very popular this year. The silk webs surrounding the trunks and branches are the combined efforts of all the caterpillars, which form a protective web over the tree on which they are feeding to try and protect themselves from birds and parasitic wasps. Infestations elsewhere in the country seem not to have harmed the trees – so the fine blossom should be back next spring. Meanwhile – for the rest of the summer – there will be a strange backdrop to the cricket pitch…..