It's fairly textbook stuff for the Mail to want to panic its readers. And to my mind there's not a whole world of difference between this scream story about caterpillars coming over here, invading our country and making us ill, and the panic-porn they regularly publish about the thousands of immigrants at Calais waiting to come over and claim a life of benefits - and guess who's paying?!?!?!?!?!?
Previously only found on the south-east coast the insects have been swarming north over the last few years thanks to Britain's increasingly warm weather.
Hang on though, what's this? Is the Mail actually accepting that climate change and warmer temperatures is... factual? Because I think if they are they should have a little word with Melanie Phillips and Richard Littlejohn (and just about all the rest of their columnists) first - because they don't believe that any such thing is happening at all, and that it's all a massive conspiracy by someone, probably the PC Brigade or the evil taxing socialist left, to make us not be able to drive our 4x4s two fucking yards down the road to drop little Toby, Tabatha and Tom off at school.
In this instance, though, climate change or rising temperatures can be accepted as fact, because that increases the inevitability of the invasion of these furry little criters, which can - wait for it - give you a nasty rash. Aaargh! Call out the army! Get them back from Afghanistan to deal with these caterpillars! For fuck's sake! Now!
Other sightings have been made throughout Essex, Sussex and Kent, with a family restaurant near Folkstone forced to close part of its car park over health fears.
But... wait a minute. Isn't this health and safety (sorry, elf'n'safety, see, that gets funnier and funnier every time you read it, doesn't it?) gawn bladdy mad? Why on earth would a restaurant close a bit of its car park over fears over caterpillars? What kind of PC Brigade silliness is this? Why can't we let our children get a slight rash from caterpillars? Is this the cotton-wool generation gone mad?
Ah, but once again, that's not the important thing in this story. Whereas the Mail would usually snort with derision at such an activity, in this context it's an important detail in order to shock the reader ever further into believing that the country is under attack JUST YARDS FROM A SCHOOL and that somehow it could be the end of the world as we know it, due to these foreign blighters!
It is believed that our warm spring weather has aided the spread of the caterpillar, which have never been seen before in Wiltshire.
Who believes that exactly? I don't remember it being a particularly warm spring, but there you go. But still, again, I mustn't keep forgetting. This isn't about the facts; this isn't about anything other than giving the Mail readers a bit of a shock over the breakfast table. We've seen it before with black squirrels, ladybirds, Spanish bluebells and all sorts of 'invading' flora and fauna.
Look at the first sentence of that last Mail article, though, and doesn't it remind you of something else?
They are taking over our waterways, hunting down our native animals and spreading disease.
So fearsome is the invasion of foreign plants, animals and insects that combating it costs Britain £2billion a year, the Government said yesterday.
The same ingredients are there, aren't they? Invasion from abroad. Infection (of disease, Islamism). Government (ie taxpayer) has to fork out. It's a BAD THING! It's just the same template applied to a different set of 'invaders'.
Just how realistic is this threat? Just how much of a danger are these caterpillars? Just how much evidence does the Mail ignore in order to reach this conclusion and scare its readers? And then, if they can do that about this story, then why not do it about those other stories about foreign invaders - immigrants and asylum seekers? How accurate are they? As accurate as this - or less? Or are they just designed to shock and scare, regardless of the truth?