'They just keep coming': Tent caterpillar invasion coats Sask. home in insects — and feces

Hordes of tent caterpillars have covered Tammi Hanowski's home south of Saskatoon and have crawled up the walls and made their way into her pool.

Saskatchewan in a boom period for tent caterpillars

Tammi Hanowski says she has used up all the spray she has, but nothing seems to be working. (Tammi Hanowski)

Hordes of tent caterpillars have covered Tammi Hanowski's home south of Saskatoon and have crawled up the walls and made their way into her pool.

"No matter what you do — you'll sweep them, you'll vacuum them — and in 10 seconds it's like they're just there again," Hanowski said. 

"Every time I come home from work, there's just more piles of them everywhere."

Hanowski first noticed the problem over the weekend. Though she had heard there was an abundance of caterpillars in Saskatoon, she didn't think much of it since the tree line seemed far enough from her house.

But she now estimates there are hundreds of thousands of the crawlers surrounding her home.

"We used up all of the spray we that had but it was just pointless because they just keep coming," she said. "You're just going to spend all this money and all this time doing this."

Tyler Wist, field crop entomologist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, said the tent caterpillars plaguing Hanowski are likely looking for a new food source or are looking to pupate. If they pupate on her house, moths will emerge in a couple of weeks.

"It's definitely the worst I've seen it," he said.

Tammi Hanowski thinks the biggest problem that will arise is cleaning off the fecal matter from her home. (Tammi Hanowski)

"We're in a boom period for the tent caterpillar," Wist said. They last about four to seven years and the area is probably in the middle of its boom. 

Wist added in particularly large infestations, such as in northern Saskatchewan, people are able to hear the fecal matter of the insects raining down on homes.

Hanowski said fecal matter is visible on her home and cleaning efforts will be her biggest concern. 

"At the moment, the way they're moving around and they're on her house, there's no way to chemically control them because they're not on their host trees anymore," Wist said. 

Hanowski said she has contacted a company about using an industrial strength pesticide but she doesn't know if that will work. 

"At this point, I don't mind waiting out the whole 'until they die thing,' but it's just the clean up after," Hanowski said.

"They're starting to smell."