caterpillars!

newtoscApril 18, 2009

This is my 3rd season gardening in the carolinas....I am seeing fuzzy brown caterpillars on lots of my plants suddenly- I've never had them before- What to do??

I thank you in advance for your help!!

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tamelask(z8a NC)

tent caterpillars- see similar post for more info. basically noting to do except trace back to the source and destroy the nest if they are still in the webbing. usually by the time you see them everywhere it's too late for that.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 9:41AM
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newtosc

Haven't seen any tents in the yard- but I guess they could be anywhere nearby.... Thanks for your response!!!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 8:09PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

If you don't see the tents they are probably blowing in from neighboring areas. Once they are off their source tree- primarily choke cherries around here and other malus and prunus species (they always get my apple tree), they don't do much damage to anything else. They are just looking for places to pupate. I think the wild birds gobble them up. They must, else we'd have many more than we do each year. I know our box turtles don't like them- they're too fuzzy!

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 8:20PM
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patskywriter

they completely attacked my dwarf flowering weeping cherry tree. i didn't notice the tent/nest until it was too late. i poked the tent open with a stick. yuckkk! i'm usually a nice, calm organic gardener, but i lost my head and sprayed everything on that tree into oblivion. looks like the end of the world now. the nest is brown and the dead caterpillars look horrible. i guess (and hope) that the tree is still alive ...? time will tell ... once i recover i'd like to move the tree into the backyard

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 10:29PM
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tamelask(z8a NC)

Moving it won't matter- the moths will find it again. Google the egg mass and look your tree over carefully in winter when they're easy to spot and relatively easy to scrape off and dispose of before they hatch. That's really the easiest solution and what i do with my apples each winter. They love cherries- any kind. If you do miss one, wait til eve when the pillars are in their tent, take a long stick and roll up the tent, like a spider web (the swirly motion folks use when loading up cotton candy). You'll trap most of the pillars in there and can squish them all at once- no chems needed. Of course, the smaller they are, the less damage they've done and the easier that is to accomplish! If a few escaped your rampage no worries- without their web, thy are easy pickins for birds. By the way, they don't bite and the fuzz isn't one of the types that cause hand irritation, so don't be afraid to touch them.

As long as this was only the first time, your tree will be fine. It'll releaf out in a week or 2. If it happens year after year, yes it can kill a tree. Fortunately, there's normally only 1 to 2 generations of tents a year, unlike the gypsies that will defoliate again and again til the trees die. And they aren't selective eaters, either. I'm so thankful they haven't come this far south (yet). Will NEVER forget seeing that when i lived up north. *shudders*

    Bookmark   April 21, 2009 at 12:26AM
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