Friday, July 03, 2009

Tent Worm Infestation

This year we've been hit with an outbreak of the Forest Tent Caterpillars, more commonly referred to as "tent worms". I've never seen anything like it! I thought we were having a plague visited on us and all the trees were going to die! But then the news programs seemed to ignore the problem for the most part and I couldn't understand why they were ignoring all of my emails on the subject. Okay, I only emailed them once, but they did ignore me.

What the trees SHOULD look like.

What the trees actually look like this year.

Turns out, this happens in cycles, about 15-20 years in a cycle. The caterpillars come, eat off all the leaves on the trees, then these parasitic (but "friendly") flies come and eat them, leaving us with hordes of flies (called "friendly" because unlike most of the flying things outside in Michigan this time of year, they don't BITE) and trees that struggle to regrow a new set of smaller leaves in order to survive. The outbreak lasts from 2-5 years and doesn't usually kill the trees, just slows down the growth. It's very sad to look at, whole areas of the woods just brown and bare. I personally thought the deadness of winter was long enough! And now I find out there will be a least one more year of this outbreak?! Yuck.

These were the caterpillars I was referring to in a previous post that my kids feel the need to rescue when we go for a walk. I can handle stopping to rescue 5-10 caterpillars, but when the roads are turning brown with their little carcasses and my kids attempt to rescue HUNDREDS of 'em, it gets a little bit tedious!

I don't know what the fall foliage will look like this year, but I can imagine it isn't going to be nearly as spectacular as in years past.

** the pics of worms and flies are from the USDA Forest Service info. sheet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

eeeewwww!!! I hate flies!!! That's sad that the worms are eating the leaves off.. I love the fall colors in Michigan.. Mom.


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