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Little black caterpillars on maple tree

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poeticpeony blog photos
Joined: 4/04/2006
Location: NE Ohio, deck chuckin' fool
Posts: 9437
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Posted: May/04/2006 10:03 PM PST

I just noticed them today in a couple spots between 4 and 6 feet up on the trunk of an old maple. I don't think they're gypsy moths. They're about an inch long and thin. I couldn't see any other color on them. There's also weblike structures mostly below where they are. There's probably about 50 in each cluster. I don't want to kill them if they're something beneficial, but I've searched the co-op extension and insect sites and found nothing I was looking for. I'm in NE Ohio, zone 5.
sashweezy
Joined: 6/06/2005
Location: Ontario, Canada..Zone 4
Posts: 8401
Posted: May/04/2006 10:21 PM PST

Quote:
Originally posted by poetic peony
I just noticed them today in a couple spots between 4 and 6 feet up on the trunk of an old maple. I don't think they're gypsy moths. They're about an inch long and thin. I couldn't see any other color on them. There's also weblike structures mostly below where they are. There's probably about 50 in each cluster. I don't want to kill them if they're something beneficial, but I've searched the co-op extension and insect sites and found nothing I was looking for. I'm in NE Ohio, zone 5.


Sorry I'm not sure. At first I was thinking tent caterpillars but now I'm thinking something else. Maybe you could research them anyway. I only get them on my crab apple tree, and that's a fruit tree. Sorry!
Jules photos
Joined: 5/14/2002
Location:
Posts: 1093
Posted: May/04/2006 10:56 PM PST

It does sound like tent caterpillars to me....we get them on our wild cherry trees and our red maple tree. The only way to get rid of them is to cut off the branch and seal it in a plastic bag so that they can't escape....either that or burn the branch. When I was a you'un, my stepfather would take a rag soaked in gas and tie it to the end of a stick and set it on fire and put it up in the nest and then they would drop on the ground on a cloth he had there and then he would burn them....gosh, wouldn't dare do something like that nowadays
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Location:
Posts: 19587
Posted: May/05/2006 4:20 AM PST

And once your tree is denuded, it'll be nake it!
greendude
Joined: 5/05/2006
Location: BC Canada
Posts: 12
Posted: May/05/2006 8:10 AM PST

You can take a look at [URL="http://www.usagardener.com/disease_pests_and _weeds/garden_pests_and_control.php"]my page on insects[/URL] - lots of pics with solutions.

Generally, there are not to many worms (not talking about larvae) that are above ground that are beneficial to your plants. For birds maybe, or other creatures.
poeticpeony blog photos
Joined: 4/04/2006
Location: NE Ohio, deck chuckin' fool
Posts: 9437
Moderator
Posted: May/07/2006 5:47 PM PST

Thanks for the info. I can remember my dad burning the tent caterpillars using the gas lit rag on a pole when I was a kid. These were right on the trunk though. I just went out with a gas grill lighter to see if they were still there. They're dead now! And there was a gypsy moth case just above so I scorched that, too.

Thanks for the photo help and info. That helped a lot. I'm sure they were tent caterpillars from the photos of the small ones. Chrispy critters now.
poeticpeony blog photos
Joined: 4/04/2006
Location: NE Ohio, deck chuckin' fool
Posts: 9437
Moderator
Posted: May/06/2009 5:32 AM PST

Bumping this back up after I did a search. I was out with the grill lighter again this year. It's an annual event with me now. I was at mom's which is across the street and checked her trees over. Her maples are about 50 years old so they have some rougher bark on them where the little beasties like to multiply. I found none there. I started thinking that maybe she's got natural predators to take care of them because she puts out so much bird seed. She has nuthatches, chickadees, and various woodpeckers that are bark clingers. So as an experiment I tossed some seed up in the crotch of my old maple and dumped a few piles of it as enticement around the base. I'm holding my breath that a chipmunk doesn't relocate it in my basement, but I'll have to wait and see.
I thought I'd share this alternative method and ask if anyone else does this.
poeticpeony blog photos
Joined: 4/04/2006
Location: NE Ohio, deck chuckin' fool
Posts: 9437
Moderator
Posted: Jul/03/2009 2:20 PM PST

The little caterpillars are now about 3 inches long. I found about a dozen on the 3 trees I've looked at today. This site has many good pictures of the different stages. http://www.gypsymoth.ento.vt.edu/vagm/carousel.htm l And there's some great information about them here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gypsy_moth

I really hope nobody else has to use this, but better to be aware than not.
poeticpeony blog photos
Joined: 4/04/2006
Location: NE Ohio, deck chuckin' fool
Posts: 9437
Moderator
Posted: Jul/08/2009 3:05 PM PST

This is not good. I've killed probably 100 on the oldest tree. Three others have had a few on them. This is war. Hopefully I'll remember to call the County Extension Agency tomorrow. I stuck my torch up under where some of the bark was peeled back and four or five would fall out. I hope I'm helping this poor old tree out. I haven't noticed defoliated areas, but I'm keeping watch.
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