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I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

Posted by scottokla (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 3, 11 at 11:14

Walking through the forests here, it is so noisy from caterpillar droppings falling that I cannot isolate the squirrels feeding in tall pecan trees.

Normally it is dead silent in the monrings and late evenings this time of year except for the sounds of sqirrels chewing through pecan shells and dropping the remains down to the ground. I can hear them from 50 yards in any direction. This year there are so many wlanut caterpillars and others that it is a neverending sound of droppings cascading down from hundreds of colonies with 50 to 100 caterpillars each on all kinds of trees.

I have never seen anything close to these numbers. The only pest we didn't have this fall was fall webworms.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

Today I found a large green caterpillar in my birdbath after it had had its fill of my hican tree.

I also noticed yesterday that my ornamental peppers had been hit hard by tobacco hornworms.

Amazing.


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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

Scott, did it have a horn on it? If so, it is probably Amorpha juglandis, or Walnut Sphinx.

I think we had large numbers of Tobacco Sphinx on solanaceae plants this year. I had tons on my Datura.

Susan


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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

It WAS in fact a walnut sphinx caterpillar, and tonight I shook three more out of one small tree and found two others on other trees. These are just the trees next to my house. I could probably find 20 to 30 if I checked all my close little trees based on the feeding I have seen.

They twist and squeak like crazy when you pick them up.

I also found two more very interesting caterpillars that I have never seen before that I need to research. One on a pecan seedling, and one (multiple) on oaks.


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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

Sounds interesting, Scott. I love to try to ID cats. Pecan being in the same family as Walnut, will have many of the same larvae feeding on them as Walnut. Many moths, on the other hand, are "generalist" feeders, and use so many different larval hosts that it is extremely difficult to ID them.

Yes, the Walnut Sphinx is known as the "squeaking" caterpillar. I have never heard any of the ones I've raised make any noise, though. Darn it! I have lots of Pecan and find them on it.

I've been sitting on the porch off and on while at my daughter's caring for my GD and watching the neighborhood squirrels run up and down the Walnut tree and scavenging those nuts that have fallen. It is amazing how fast they gnaw off the outer skin and the inner skin before they run back across the street to bury them somewhere. I enjoy watching them, but my daughter has a cat, and they sit in the tree chattering at him until he moves elsewhere. Boy, do they give him a talking to. Most people don't like squirrels, but I find them quite fascinating to watch. I love watching the young ones in the spring. They are very acrobatic when playing with each other, lol!

Susan


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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

Susanlynne, are you up to some personal correspondence now, if things are slowing down a bit in the garden and you're feeling better?
I thought my tobacco hornworm season was over, too. A week ago, the tomatoes were mulched. Of course that will hide any new frass. I Ignored those plants, other than to just water, but this past week, some of the errant chickens were moving in and out of the tomato beds. Chase them out, and they come right back. It's the fault of the owner who refuses to confine them to a 50' x 150' lot, even though it is full of vegetation. When I went out the other day, to put back clumps mulch they had scratched out, to my utter horror, I saw new hornworm feeding signs all over my plants, but not a single cat in sight. I cannot tell you all, how badly I want to avenge them with some scrumptious chicken and dumplings!
Poor, innocent and defenseless tobacco hornworms!


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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

I just pulled two off of my Tomato plant to relocate to the Datura. BTW, I have a couple of pods (there are tons of seed to a pod) maturing for you, if you want them.

Sure, send me an e-mail! I am still going to my daughter's house during the week, but we are trying to cut back to 2 or 3 days a week. Of course, that is always contingent upon future flares she is likely to experience.

Susan


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RE: I've never seen so many fall caterpillars.

Scott,

We have your fall webworms here, or at least we had them 3 or 4 weeks ago. Other than that, I'm not seeing any cats at all, but I cannot walk through our snakey woods until the rattlesnakes have put themselves up for the winter.

We do have a couple of squirrels doing their best to find and bury every nut on the property. I bet we have pecan, oak and black walnut seedings popping up everywhere next year.

Dawn


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