NATURE has been delighting dog walkers in Norton who have been left shocked to see a tree transformed by hungry caterpillars.

Members of the public contacted the News after spotting a tree covered in a web-like substance that has left it looking like it’s time to celebrate Halloween or Christmas.

And it has now been confirmed the natural art display is the work of caterpillars!

Norton resident Jean Guest said: “It’s absolutely incredible. It looks just like a Christmas tree covered in snow. It’s really a sight to see.”

Stourbridge-based BBC wildlife expert and broadcaster Brett Westwood confirmed the tree, on the Mere, off Heath Farm Road, has been transformed by a larval web of the Spindle Ermine moth.

Stourbridge News: A Norton tree transformed by a larval web of the Spindle Ermine mothA Norton tree transformed by a larval web of the Spindle Ermine moth (Image: Mark Guest)

After taking a look, he said the tree has been completely stripped of its leaves by the creatures - but he stressed: “The caterpillars are harmless to us and spin a web to protect themselves from birds and other predators.

“Numbers of caterpillars vary each year and in some years there are huge numbers of them when they literally eat themselves out of house and home.

“They will pupate soon and emerge as moths in a few weeks.

“The adult moths are white with black spots - which is how they get the name Ermine.

“The good news is that the trees and bushes they defoliate soon recover, often later in the same season and they tend not to return each year - so there is no permanent damage.”

Brett, whose book ‘Wonderland: A Year of Britain's Wildlife, Day by Day’ (co-authored by Stephen Moss) features lots of local stories, will be giving a talk later in the year – at the Bewdley Festival on October 10.

He said: I’ll be talking about wildlife on the doorstep, with plenty of examples from Stourbridge.”