Northern Ireland

South Belfast: Whole lotta larvae infest trees in Belvoir estate

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Media captionTens of thousands of larvae have stripped a number of trees almost bare in the Belvoir Estate

A plague of biblical proportions is munching its way through ash trees in an area of south Belfast.

Tens of thousands of larvae have stripped a number of trees almost bare in the Belvoir Estate.

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.

They were spotted a week ago by Adib Ma'ani and his wife Bahia.

They spent several days trying to establish where the larvae had come from.

They contacted the BBC after failing to get answers from officials.

Image caption It has emerged that the creatures are larvae from the ash sawfly

"It's a bit disconcerting," said Adib.

"We've posted some images and video on social media but our friends are enjoying this much more than we are."

It emerged that the larvae are from the ash sawfly.

Andrew Crory, a moth expert with the Ulster Wildlife Trust, visited the site on Wednesday to help with identification.

Image caption Local residents said the same thing happened in 2015 with no detrimental effects on the trees

He said the recent warm weather may well have kick started the infestation.

"Everything in the insect world goes in cycles of boom and bust," he said.

"It's uncommon and it's always spooky when you see it."

Experts from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs are to be sent for a look.

But, local residents say the same thing happened last year and there were no detrimental effect on the trees.

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