This damp Spring of 2017 has seen an explosion in the population forest tent caterpillars, not just in the National Capital Region, but across Ontario and Quebec. And it could get worse… Jason Pollard, is a forester with the City of Ottawa. He says “What we’re seeing is the early stages of what could be a couple of years of outbreak. Typically with this bug we’re looking at cycles of every 10 or 15 years and then we’re in it for two, sometimes three years, maybe even longer.” Tent caterpillars are voracious eaters, stripping leaves from a variety of trees, including poplar, birch, oak, maple and flowering fruit trees. The good news is the caterpillar is an early feeder, meaning many of the trees will be able to grow a second set of leaves later this spring. They’re probably a week or two away from pupating and then they’ll become moths.” Tent caterpillars are harmless to humans but concerned property owners can take steps to limit their spread. Clumps of caterpillars on a tree can be sprayed off with a garden hose or knocked into a bucket of soapy water. You can also wrap burlap around the trunk the of the tree. More information can be found on the City of Ottawa website.
Image source: Steve Boyton / website: http://ottawa.ca