Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 30/5/2016 (1637 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
IF you think you are seeing way more caterpillars than usual this year, you are right.
"It’s pretty much at outbreak level now," said Jordan Bannerman, an instructor in the entomology department at the University of Manitoba.
Bannerman said the population of the forest tent caterpillar is "very cyclical in nature," with an outbreak expected every 10 years. He adds that outbreak levels of the forest tent caterpillars can last between two to four years.
Regarding this year’s situation, Bannerman said, "There’s nothing out of the ordinary, but it’s been long enough that it’s really startling when you see the sheer numbers of them."
For the last two weeks, the city’s insect control branch has been busy spraying for the annual invasion of the forest tent caterpillar.
Taz Stuart, an entomologist and director of technical operations at Poulin’s Pest Control, said they’ve received many calls over the weekend and Monday from people asking to get their yards sprayed.
According to the city, forest tent caterpillar spraying usually begins within the last few days of May. Stuart attributes the earlier start to our warmer-than-normal spring. "It’s temperature related," he said. "It’s warm enough for (the caterpillars) to emerge from the egg masses."
The forest tent caterpillar is "the most spectacular of forest defoliators," according to the city’s website. The caterpillars prefer to feed on aspen leaves, but during severe outbreaks they can move to other trees such as ash, maple, birch and elm.
Bannerman said the caterpillar population can grow so high that they can cover roads, making them slippery and dangerous.
Jane Carroll, 69, encountered a similar scene some years ago. "My ugliest memory of them is driving out to Victoria Beach and there had been a whole army of them had gone across the road," she said. "The whole road was covered in squished caterpillars."
Bannerman said the spraying conducted by the city helps reduce the stress on the trees. "Any tree that is under a lot of stress will become susceptible to other potential diseases or secondary insects that look to feed on weakened trees," he said, adding "you’re not going to get the caterpillars out of the city. There’s no way to do that."
But spraying isn’t the only way to get rid of these creepy crawlers. According to Bannerman, the adult moths lay their eggs in July and remain dormant until they hatch the following spring. "Once the adult moths lay their eggs, you can prune the trees to get rid of the egg masses."
He said egg masses are shiny, grey and are found around the smaller branches of the tree. He added that each egg mass can produce around 150 to 200 caterpillars.
On Sunday, the city finished spraying the Burrows Central and Robertson William Whyte areas of the city.
Weather permitting, the treatment was to continue Monday night in Insect Management Area 23 (Tuxedo Industrial, West Perimeter South, Whyte Ridge, Wilkes South) and 24 (Brockville, Buffalo, Chevrier, Linden Ridge, Lindenwoods, Pembina Strip, West Fort Garry Industrial).