Tent Caterpillars are back

Tent Caterpillars are back

The City of Cold Lake is aware of the public concern about the amount of tent caterpillars that have been noticed. The city is doing its best to focus on mechanical, rather than chemical, measures of control. This is due to the fact that the most effective chemical solutions involve pesticides that are non-selective, which would result in the destruction of many other species.

Members of the public may have also noticed an increase in the population of what is commonly referred to as the “house fly” or “friendly fly." This species is one of the tent caterpillars' natural predators and the sudden increase in their population often signals the end of the tent caterpillar cycle.

Facts about Caterpillars:

• They are cyclical. This means that they will not be around forever. The caterpillars are currently in the peak of their 7 year cycle and will decrease in numbers over the next couple of years until they are virtually unnoticeable in quantity.
• While aesthetically displeasing, the tent caterpillar will not actually kill trees. These pests do cause a fair amount of defoliation which may leave the tree in a weakened state, but the majority of affected trees can recover.
• The Tent Caterpillar completes is larvae stage around the middle of June to beginning of July. At this point they will cocoon, turn into moths, lay their eggs and die. By the end of July their cycle will be completed until the following spring.

What you can do:

Aside from waiting for nature to take its course, there are a few things you can do at home to protect your ornamental trees.

• A simple homemade pesticide can be used that is safe for the tree and environmentally friendly when mixed and applied properly: 
1. Mix 2 tbsp of original dawn soap and 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a 1 L spray bottle with warm water.
2. Spray liberally directly on caterpillars, this mixture prevents oxygen intake through the skin. The best time to do this is early morning when they are still grouped together. Try not to spray the leaves if possible as it may cause scorching when combined with the sun.
• During the winter months, be on the lookout for Tent Caterpillar egg masses. These can be pruned off your tree and disposed of with your household waste. A tree free of egg masses will likely be free of caterpillars the following spring.

Monday, May 29, 2017