Trees under attack, but most can take it


Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

Photo courtesy Missouri Department of Conservation.

Insects are eating the leaves on hardwood deciduous trees statewide but don’t panic.

Most of the leaf damage is from inch worms that feed at night, the Missouri Department of Conservation reported Wednesday in “Tree Health News.”

“In many cases, caterpillar populations are so high that you can hear the frass (insect excrement) falling like rain,” it states.

Yikes, but do not despair.

“The good news is that they will be done feeding in the next couple weeks or so,” it states, and “when trees are healthy, one or two years of severe defoliation won’t kill them.”

The trees may put out more leaves later but that stresses trees and watering them during dry periods is helpful.

Insecticide is not recommended because it works best on small caterpillars and most spring caterpillars will soon be gone, on their way to becoming moths.

Other forces are also at work. There have been reports of many large metallic green beetles called the Caterpillar Hunter or Fiery Searcher. They climb trees to get prey and “sometimes fly into lights at night causing high numbers of them to accumulate around buildings.”

This too will pass.

One Comment

  1. Chris DeLong says:

    Little caterpillars are food for baby birds. We like baby birds right?

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