Caterpillar carnage coming to an end in the Cowichan Valley
If you're a gardener you are probably cursing those furry friends all over your plants this spring.
The tent caterpillar is out in the thousands and has taken over gardens and orchards all over South Vancouver Island, with Cowichan Bay especially hit hard this year.
A local garden expert, Bernie Dinter, said the caterpillar encroachment this year is really no surprise.
“Infestation was actually last year; they laid a lot of egg masses which we saw on the trees last fall, and we started pulling them off then and we knew we were going to be seeing a lot of them this spring, but there is just too many out there and lots of egg masses in the wild.”
Dinter said the caterpillar cycle is 7-10 years, which is now peaking, and then nature enforces a mean predator to kill the caterpillars.
“Well nature is really gross on this one, there is a wasp that lays its eggs in the head of the caterpillar and where the eggs hatch, they eat it out from the inside, so there are things like that, that get to them.”
If you don’t want to wait for those wasps, Dinter shared an eco-friendly way to deal with the furry pests.
“There is an organic type spray that is actually a bacterial spray, that can be sprayed on the foliage and it is fatal only to caterpillars, it doesn’t harm bees or any other insects that are desirable, it’s called BTK.”
Some solace to gardeners is that the caterpillars are not fatal to your garden, as most plants and trees can regrow new leaves after they've been munched away.
Dinter notes that the caterpillars will not be around for much longer, and will fly away as butterflies in the coming weeks.
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