Caterpillars '18
Caterpillars '18
Caterpillars '18

We ended the season with lots of foliage on the trees despite the best efforts of two species of caterpillars, the Eastern and Forest Tent Caterpillars. The Eastern variety is characterized by a solid white stripe down its center back while the Forest tent variety is marked by chains of white markings down the back, simply put. Both are voracious leaf eaters and during heavy infestations such as during the summer of 2004 the “summer without leaves” their numbers were so many that the woods were completely denuded of leaves. Such devastating cycles are said to occur about every 50 years while lesser but still serious infestations recur in 10-year cycles. This season’s invasion would qualify as one of the 10-year scenarios.

Control of the caterpillars is accomplished through aerial application of an environmentally friendly insecticide called “BTK”. It’s a common bacterium that has crystal proteins poisonous to the feeding larvae and its activated only in the alkaline environment of the gut of the organism. Hence when sprayed on the leaves of the trees on the canopy where they’re feeding, the bacterium is ingested along with the rest of the leaf. In the alkaline environment of its gut the toxins from Bacillus thuringiensis (the bacterium) are activated and the organism soon dies. There aren’t any chemical residues and the agent biodegrades quickly.

The current status of the issue is this: the Association is committed to 2 additional years of spraying with Duflo company. We will have a contract in hand within a week or two for the 2019 season. Cost? ~ $9,500. - $10,000.

(From Bill DeLorraine, SLA President)

Caterpillars '18

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2018