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Author Topic: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings  (Read 569 times)

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Offline Randy88

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caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« on: May 28, 2017, 04:21:32 pm »
I've been told by my wife, caterpillars are damaging our newly seeded tree's around the house yard, they are in the tree's, shrubs, flowers and everywhere.      They have spun nests in everything, most up so high we can't reach them to remove them.     

We've tried to prune the trees branches with the nests and all in, but with so many, we'll destroy the tree's that way if the caterpillars don't kill the tree first.     

On quite a few tree's its so bad, there are no leaves, buds or anything left on the tree for the caterpillars to eat anymore.   

At first I wasn't believing they could literally kill the tree's, but with as much trouble as we've been having getting them to grow and stay alive, since they are newly established tree's, as in less than three years old, I'm beginning to believe her and now trying to figure out how to get rid of the caterpillars and keep the tree's alive.   

Anyone had caterpillars so bad, its not practical to remove them by hand or to prune the tree's limbs with the webs in them?

The old grove of tree's had spider mites so badly, we had to spray the entire grove for a few years in order to keep the tree's alive back a decade ago or more now.     These tree's are short enough and young enough I can spray them with a small tractor mounted sprayer, but what do you think I should spray the caterpillars with?

There on the house, flowers, tree's, shrubs and everywhere.   I'll admit, I've never seen anything like it myself before, the last few years, they were contained to two scrubby tree's and were told those kinds of tree's were the one's they liked and probably wouldn't move anywhere else or to any other tree's.   We've kept them down and removed as best we can, but this year, the population just exploded you might say.   

Anyone got any advice or idea's, I've sprayed a lot of things to kill plants and weeds, but never caterpillars or bugs.    Thanks in advance.   

Offline grouch

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2017, 05:45:28 pm »
[This is a rant].

How many predators of caterpillars did all that previous spraying kill?

If the spraying of poison were necessary for trees to live, they would have died out long before there were people on the planet.

I can remember a couple of years when tent caterpillars looked like they were going to take over. Just gritted my teeth and waited. Those imbalanced years were the exception, not the rule.

This world mostly needs me to meddle with its systems as little as necessary and sufficient for me to carve out my niche in it. I'll do that carving mechanically, not with poisons whose long term effects are not even fully understood by the peddlers who push them.

Life will still be tenacious and persistent long after I'm gone.

[rant over]
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Offline Randy88

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2017, 07:53:03 pm »
Nice idea, would like to ignore the problem too, but since we've replanted these tree's twice already, nearly 800 total up to today, I'm not sure I want to let nature take its course yet again.     

The first batch died from excess heat I'm told by the nursery, the second batch died from excess rain and drowned, again what we were told by the nursery and since we replanted them yet again, the nursery is now shut and closed.

To let the caterpillars eat them and cause the tree's to literally starve to death didn't go over well with my better half, not sure how many thousands of dollars we have in these already.     Count out the one's that cars have driven off the road and destroyed by shearing off and those the deer have eaten to the ground, I'm not thinking anyone in house too much cares about letting nature take its course anymore.       

So toss up your address and I'll gladly ship you some caterpillars that are in need of love and a home to go to, I was asking not only about chemical control methods, but also organic control methods or anything except picking the caterpillars off each tree one at a time, seeing how we've tried that and are losing the battle big time.     

So before you rant about changing the environment or destroying anything god put on this earth, how about my tree's, don't they have a right to live and be protected or should we just stand back and say, heck boy's, have at them there is no need to do anything now, its just a freak thing and I guess once the host is dead, the predators will leave..............right?

As for killing the predators of the caterpillars, it might be just me, but since I've never sprayed anything before to kill any pests..............ever, and from the reading I've done, birds are the largest predator of caterpillars and there doesn't seem to be a shortage of birds by any means, I'm not thinking I'm to blame for any of this, all I'm trying to do is protect my tree's and keep them alive.       

So since none of the caterpillars are wanted here, let alone loved, please come and pick your own, take as many thousand as you wish, take a few thousand extra in case the first few thousand die in transit back to your house, take a few extra thousand to share with your neighbors and friends as well, it seems they are in need of a much better home than they are getting here and I hate to deprive anyone of them, let alone kill any of them, of course if you don't care enough to come get them, their fate just maybe sealed due to the lack of love and appreciation for them at my house.     

Offline Gearbox

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2017, 08:45:38 pm »
Are these things about a 1/2 inch long and green ? Spruce worms ?
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Offline Ron Scott

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2017, 09:23:43 pm »
Check with your local Iowa State Extension Service for identification of the pests and what control measures might be initiated to protect your trees.
~Ron

Offline grouch

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2017, 09:27:59 pm »
Thank you for your tolerance and civility following my rant.

It was unfairly aimed in your direction. I've just seen too many gruesome looking patches with all plant life turned brown when it should be green and dead critters laying around with no apparent cause of death, all because somebody thought spraying some herbicide or pesticide was the only solution.

I don't have the resource at hand, but I recall reading somewhere that some trees produce tender, tasty leaves in the spring and then tough, bitter ones for summer. It may have to do with attracting pollinators. Perhaps a forester can confirm or dismiss that notion.

If these are tent caterpillars, you can use a pole saw to tear up their nests so the birds can get at them. Also bacillus thuringiensis (a bacterium that lives in the soil) can get 'em without hurting kids, birds or bees.
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Offline nativewolf

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2017, 09:41:10 pm »
It would really help to get a picture.  Depending upon what species is tenting spraying may or may not help much. 

What type of seedlings?  You say tenting so I think Eastern Tent Moth Caterpillar.  Is that what it is?

If so they usually can't kill a tree.  Second, if the tree is so high you can't touch them then how large are these saplings?

Fire works well, just light the tents on fire.  You must have had some before for them to infest to such an extent. 
Bacillus thuringiensis  may be the safest thing to spray on caterpillars.  Very benign.  Best if sprayed on them at a young age.  Nothing is perfect but BT is pretty good, may impact bees so hopefully you don't have any bees around, if so try to target and use as little as possible.

if Eastern Tent they won't kill the trees in only 1 year. 
 

Offline Randy88

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2017, 11:40:37 pm »
I'll contact my local extension agent on Tuesday.       

They started in crabapple tree's and are now in our evergreen and arborvitae tree's by the mass's, the evergreen's were saved on a building demolition project, not sure how old they were then, but that was three years ago and now we can't reach the tops of the tree's standing on the ground.     

The crabapple tree's were here when we bought the place and all the arborvitae's have been planted in the last four years from bare root seedlings, about 250 at a time, the oldest are now over my reach.     All the caterpillars are redish steak body mostly brown with some yellow mixed in and about an inch long, dozens per nest and they rebuild the nests each day, back in the same place about the same numbers each time, have no clue where they come from so fast.     There are dozens of nests on each of the larger tree's and the smaller arborvitae's will have about four or five nests in each tree and smaller numbers of caterpillars in each nest, maybe 8 or so to a nest.     

They have nests under the house eves all along the house, and are rebuilt about as fast as you can tear them down it seems, by the next day they are back about the same number.     The rose bush's are full as well, along with the {weeds} flowers around all the buildings and anything that creeps up the windmill, again I'm told flowers are the correct term and vines that grow tall as well, again I've been told the correct flower name, but weeds hit it closer for me, so I smile and agree a lot on how nice they look and dress the place up.     

The crabapple's have little to no leaves left on them, and were where the caterpillars started last year, again we'd tear the nests down as fast as they were put up, those tree's are about 15 feet or more tall, and now are not looking good at all, a few guys who looked at them said they probably won't make it as tough as they look this early in the year.       

As for what species of caterpillar they are exactly, not sure yet, where they come from so fast, again not sure.     

The place has had spider mites bad, bad enough some tree's were killed years back and were custom sprayed before we bought the place about 10 years ago now, via recommendation by the local forester back then in order to save them I was told................but were sprayed too late to save them all, so after thinning the dead one's over the following years, the entire grove was taken down and started over again, again via recommendations given by the forester I think, or the extension office, can't recall off hand who or if both looked at them back then, now almost five years ago.   

Birds are about the only thing that seems to eat them, but with all the fields being tilled the last month or so, they don't mess with the caterpillars much, fresh worms seem to be their preference lately.

Offline Randy88

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #8 on: May 30, 2017, 06:55:44 pm »
Talked to the local extension people, they told me to spray with an organic spray, at first I was a little skeptical but they gave me the name of the stuff to go get from the local farm store.   Off we go to get it, and once home, I looked it up on the internet and then nearly wet myself laughing.       

Seems caterpillars are going to be killed around my yard with flowers.      Certain flowers are deadly to caterpillars, I know I'll botch the spelling of these, but chrysanthemums ground into powder then mixed with water will kill the caterpillars, lice, mites and a host of things, are harmless to dogs but if I read it right, cats are not to be allowed near the stuff, which won't be a huge deal, I think the dog has the local cat population under control and pretty well chased away.     

At first I thought this has to some joke, no way will ground up flowers kill anything..............boy was I wrong, we sprayed all the trees in the yard and those suckers fell out of the tree's raining caterpillars big time, now there are thousands of nearly dead or dead caterpillars laying on the ground under and around all the tree's in the yard.      The best part, according to the extension office was there should be no passed on toxicity to anything that eats the caterpillars.     

So for now I think the problem is under control, we used flowers to kill them by the mass's and it worked like a charm so far, we might have to respray again in a few day's depending on what we missed with the sprayer and what things look like.     



 

Offline thecfarm

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Re: caterpillars damaging tree seedlings
« Reply #9 on: May 30, 2017, 09:07:32 pm »
Just call them mums,it's easier.  ;D
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