'At first you just think it's dirt': Forest tent caterpillars invade Brandon trees

The City of Brandon will spray for forest tent caterpillars starting next week after the insects invaded some areas of the city this week.

Trees on some streets have been covered with the nuisance insects; spraying begins next week

Residents on Broda Bay in Brandon have scattered powdered insecticide around trees on the street, as forest tent caterpillars have invaded the area. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

The City of Brandon will spray for forest tent caterpillars starting next week following this week's invasion by the insects in some areas of the city.

On Broda Bay, in the central part of the city, the bugs covered some of the trees in a white web virtually overnight.

Residents covered the bases of tree trunks with powdered insecticide and bands have been placed around trees in an effort to stave off the pests. 

"It's pretty disgusting," said Nadine Krahn, who lives in the area. "There have been big bunches of them on the trees and hanging from the trees like ropes.

"At first you just think it's dirt, then you get a little closer." 

The bugs, which cause severe defoliation of some tree species, haven't covered the trees in front of her house yet, but trees in front of other homes on the small street have been covered.

The city said the caterpillars are widespread in Brandon's north end and in smaller populations in pockets throughout the city. 

City crews plan to start spraying the insecticide DiPel WP on city property starting next Tuesday, if weather permits. The biological insecticide will be dispersed in a high-pressure spray from a trailer pulled by a city vehicle.

Krahn said ideally, she would have like to see the city spray sooner. 

"It happened so quickly," she said. "That tree didn't have any and then the next day … it just got them." 

The city said residents should close their windows or turn off air conditioners while crews are spraying.