Tent caterpillars: Tips to help control the outbreak
Specialist says outbreaks happen every 10 to 15 years and last up to six years
The rising number of tent caterpillars over the last couple of years could be a sign Saskatchewan is in the middle of an outbreak.
That's according to the province's Ministry of Agriculture insect specialists who said tent caterpillar outbreaks happen every 10 to 15 years and last anywhere from three to six years.
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Scott Hartley, an insect specialist with the ministry, said its usually around this time of the year when people start to notice tent caterpillars. However, he says the astonishing number of caterpillars for this time of year suggests the mild winter and hot spring may have sprung more caterpillars, quicker.
"But a combination of factors have allowed it to build up to this point and be this widespread," Hartley said. "Certainly in 2015 there was problems in a number of areas, some parks and urban areas did see outbreaks last year as well."
The city added it does not control tent caterpillars, cankerworms or leafrollers because the critters don't impact the health of the trees they attack.
Should farmers fear caterpillar outbreaks?
While tent and forest caterpillars tend to target and feed off deciduous trees, Hartley said farmers shouldn't be too worried of the outbreak reaching their fields.
"This is a forestry pest, so it's not a concern to farmers as far as crops go," he said.
The Ministry of Agriculture added the caterpillars' natural predators include birds, and the sarcophagid fly, which actually lays its eggs in the caterpillar. Hartley added that disease also tends to wipe out tent caterpillars.
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