The KPRC Radio Gardenline Tip By Randy Lemmon For 03-31-05 Printer-Friendly Version
Creepy Caterpillers Come Calling...
MIt's about that time of the year, and if my emails are any indication, the ATTACK OF THE ARMY WORM / OAK LEAF CATERPILLAR/GYPSY MOTH CATERPILLAR have begun.
The GYPSY MOTH, OAK LEAF CATERPILLAR and/or TENT CATERPILLARS are general descriptions for the myriad of caterpillars that like to defoliate trees and hang from their web-threads in April. The first sign that there is a problem is like the picture you see in this article, a mass of caterpillars on the trunk of the tree. The second sign -- and can often be a sign that it's too late to provide treatment -- is when these caterpillars figuratively and quite literally "drip" from the tree from their web-threads. But it's the mass/cluster of caterpillars (some say worms) on the trunk that is the first sign you need to treat the tree.
However, if you leave any of these clusters of caterpillars alone, while they might defoliate a tree, they will never kill it. A tree eaten to the nub by such caterpillars will always re-leaf.
So, what if you do want to get rid of the cluster? Simply put, get any insecticide you have on hand and spray the cluster of worms. Even a can of Raid or Black Flag would work.
But how do you know if you got all the worms? You don't! That's why it's more important to treat as many leaves as possible with a B.T. insecticide. B.T. stands for Bascillius Thuringeinsis, a natural bacterium that will kill any and all worms and caterpillars when they take a bite of any B.T.-treated leaf.
B.T. is found mostly in a concentrate form under the name Thuricide. Some containers do simply say B.T., but not as often as they say Thuricide. There are still dusts available too in the B.T. form under the name Dipel Dust. But they are nearly impossible to treat a tree with.
Check the other links below to see other images of all the caterpillars that do this work.
Until next issue, here's to
Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard
exclusively weekend mornings from 8 to noon
on Talkradio 950 KPRC.