St. Lazare plagued by so many caterpillars they're burying them in pails
Woman near Manitoba village says she's never seen anything like the carpet of forest tent caterpillars
Haley Blouin loves her brand new house near St.Lazare, Man. — about 120 kilometres northwest of Brandon — but right now she wants to set fire to it because of the dense carpet of forest tent caterpillars covering almost every surface.
"They are just all over, like in oodles of big packs," Blouin said. "They're just disgusting, all over the place."
The forest tent caterpillar infestation is approaching its peak, with several areas in Manitoba — including the province's southwestern corner — seeing a particularly high number of the creepy crawlers.
Blouin's property seems to be especially popular.
"We've been putting them in five-gallon pails, digging holes and then burying them," Blouin said.
"Probably not the most humane thing to do."
They've buried five pails so far, but that hasn't made a dent in the number of caterpillars on and around her property.
"We have absolutely no leaves so it looks like we're either in the fall or middle of winter because there are no leaves in our yard," Blouin said.
Taz Stuart, former city of Winnipeg entomologist and current director of technical operations at Poulin's Pest Control Services, said the caterpillars are at the top of their 10- to 13-year peak in Manitoba.
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"We're probably in it or on the latter side of it, so you should start seeing numbers decrease over the next couple years," Stuart said.
Saskatchewan is also seeing a massive infestation of forest tent caterpillars.
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"It's like a black smudge across the laneway. It's just crawling," Blouin said.
The good news for those who don't like the caterpillars is that they should be reaching their highest numbers of the season now, Stuart said. They will soon begin to pupate and turn into moths.
"I hope so, because I don't know if I can deal with this for any longer. It's disgusting," Blouin said.
"I've been going to my mom and dad's house every day to go and just walk around because I just can't stand hearing them crunch and fall off of my house."
She said the situation is bad enough that her husband, Josef, has even tried burning the insects.
"He put gas on them and then burnt them. It was like a bonfire," Blouin said.
"It smelled like hot dogs."