Caterpillar Chaos: not for the squeamish.


We are in the middle of an epic – and I mean EPIC, tent caterpillar infestation.  They happen every ten or twelve years….and although the north has been under attack for a few years, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that our property is ground zero this year.

It’s been a few weeks now, and honestly, there’s not a green leaf of any sort in sight for as far as I can see….poplar is a favorite, willow, aspen, wild roses – as I write this, the caterpillar cupboard is now bare bare bare.

At some point – soon I’m hoping, they cocoon.  At some point after that, they hatch out as moths, breed, lay eggs and next spring we have the dubious pleasure of watching the offspring eat the trees again.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel though (in theory) – they eat themselves out of house and home at some point and the population implodes.  Let’s hope.  I fully expect to have another attack next year – but I’m hoping not as bad.

In the meantime, good thing I’m not squeamish (although there have been moments).  I’m especially not fond of the ‘raining down on my head’ caterpillar thing. ICK.  All one can do when you have bazillions of them – not much.  We’ve spent a lot of time sweeping, stomping, smooshing, hosing off of things, drowning, mowing……..there is NO end to them.

So – following are a few pictures – barrels of caterpillars, buckets of caterpillars, caterpillars climbing the house, encroaching on the back door, laying seige to the feed room, hanging out on what’s left on the trees.

So far – (and thank God) they have not shown an interest in my garden. :)<strong20140611-141207.jpg

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About valbjerke

Farmer, Transmission Rebuilder, Self Sufficiency Nut. Like the old school way of doing things. "Fast is fine - accuracy is final" (quote by some way back famous gun-slinger - likely just before he got shot dead)
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11 Responses to Caterpillar Chaos: not for the squeamish.

  1. peech01 says:

    now these pics are something for a science documentary…….. wow ………….

  2. Pat says:

    we burn the ‘tents’ as soon as we see them to keep the damage down.

    • valbjerke says:

      Actually these aren’t the species that make the huge tents – these ones make individual cocoons wherever – trees, fences, eaves, barb wire – just about anywhere. Though I am tempted at times to toss a match at the place…. 😊

  3. Wow. I’m actually speechless. I think that would be a deal breaker for my wife. She would be in the car and headed back into a very sterile place in the city. A different thought though, can you dry them out and save them for the chickens?

    • valbjerke says:

      No – the chickens won’t go near them – they’re quite nasty – I’ve seen the odd Robin take a few, but apparently their only predator is a parasite of sorts and it not a very effective one when there is that many. As an aside – the caterpillar hairs are toxic to pregnant mares and can actually cause the loss of the foal before birth. Crazy.

  4. Bill says:

    Wow. I’ve never seen anything like that. We have some of them here, but what you’re experiencing is just crazy. On the bright side, I guess you don’t have to buy any chicken feed this time of year.

    • valbjerke says:

      Well that’s part of the problem – nothing eats them – they’re nasty tasting and toxic. As I write this they are now in the cocooning stage – so we are running around smashing cocoons. It’s pointless, but still satisfying 😊

  5. You are made of sturdier stuff than I am. Like JonesGardeningBlog, I’d have hit the road or torched the place. But what are you going to do with Mother Nature. I’m curious as to WHY this happens every ten to twelve years (as in what is the catalyst – global warming, pesticides, etc.) Am off to read next segment in this creepy-crawly drama.

    • valbjerke says:

      Well the caterpillars have been around forever – they are a native species. I think the ebb and flow of the population vs food supply is what dictates the cycle. Oddly – there is an upside to it – the underbrush in the forest gets more sunlight – this year I’ve a bumper crop of twin berries.

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