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thanks to the tent worm invasion.....  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Well i was looking out over the pond and i saw white blossoms..went to investigate and found a beautiful apple tree in full bloom growing out of the center of an alder shrub..woudn't have known it was an apple had i not seen it in bloom..as it was so similar looking to the rest of the alder tree that it blended right in..all but the cloud of white.

well i marked it..and then as I was walking back to the house I realized I had missed some tent worms in the great invasion..so i went back to the house and got the spray..and headed back to demolish the tent worms..sprayed them and then looked and man they were everywhere..so i am crawling through the underbrush in shorts and tennies..and spraying tent worms..by the millions..they were all over..and of course you had to go to each tree through more underbrush..so i've gone throug about a 300 x 300 area of the woods..and i ran across another cloud of white blossoms..a gnarly old apple tree i would have never spotted if it hadn't been for following the trail of tent worm nests..it was beautiful..about 300 feet back from my nut grove..in a nice area of the woods to get to, however it was surrounded by wild cherries full of tent worms..(hard to see the beauty for all the ugly)...anyway now I know it is there and I won't forget..i'll get the chainsaw out one of these days and go cut down all those nasty wild cherries that harbor the tent worms..and get them out of the surrounding area around the apple tree..and cut myself a path throught the underbrush to it..it was spectacular..so now i have 2 beautiful apple trees that I didn't know i had..all because of killing the tent worm invasion.
 
steward
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I hate to ask ....

what did you spray them with?

 
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oh man those things are awful!!! we had a terrible infestation one year. I don't know how much it helpd but I used one of those garden fertilizer sprayers that you attach to the hose. I filled the container with dish soap went after them. it seemed to at least slow them down. those things will kill kill kill your little trees in less than a year. it would be one of those things I would be willing to resort to judicious use of insecticides if neccessary. they come in droves some years and then are practically gone for most. I think the year we had them so bad (the whole part of the state had them not just us) I remember it was being partially blamed on the weather. it is sooo gross to have a bunch of them fall on your head too. bleche. worm wig.
 
Brenda Groth
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[/img]
this was the first apple tree i spotteed..growing out from the center of an alder tree (which we will cut down the alder tree) in front and left of that was where i spotted the first of the tent worms..usually I use bt on the tent worms..but i hate to use too much as it will kiill all caterpillars..so i went and got a can of WD40 and sprayed just the nests..and trails..have to be careful as it is pretty toxic stuff..but it will kill the worms on contact..i used a whole large can on a bunch of nests..hundreds..and ran out about 300 x 300 ' back into the 600 x 600 feet woods..can't do the rest..too hard to get to right now..but got a start.

the baltimore orioles will eat some of the tent worms..but we have way too many tent worms for them to eat them all..we do attract a LOT of baltimore orioles here as we feed them..and we have a bunch of them right now..but need to help them out some by limiting their obligations.

 
paul wheaton
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Brenda,

Perhaps we can find a non-toxic path that will work particularly well for you?

I usually prune a branch and then burn the branch.  But I've never seen more than one or two in a year.

But if this is a chronic, annual problem, I wonder if the thing to do might be to come up with a longer term solution.  Maybe the trees are stressed and drawing in the tent caterpillars.  Maybe there is something you can plant nearby that somehow solves the problem. 

 
Brenda Groth
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the trac gramma wasps are supposed to work..but i don't have a source right now and it would be too late to mail order them in for this year..i'll watch for the right time to mail order them next year and get a jump on the little buggers.

At least i know i need to have them delivered by may 12 if the schedule remains the same that is when we started seeing them..

you wouldn't belive it..the drive between our house and the neighboring towns, the trees are bare other than the big ugly white web nests..no leaves ..at last MY house..we have leaves..and dead worms !!!
 
Leah Sattler
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that was how it was the bad year we had the invasion. the country roads were lined with leafless trees and they looked like giant black widow nests. It was awful. it did seem in hindsight that the trees most terribly affected were the ones that were exposed and of course the smaller ones that weren't tended to that were completely engulfed. trees in large stands of brush and woodland seemed less effected. but it could have only appeared that way because the wooded areas weren't as visible. everything looks worse up close.
 
Brenda Groth
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i do believe that you are right that the more exposed trees do seem to be more covered..and  yeah..the trails up the trees are eery..almost like a horror movie.

i am just glad i kept on them here killing them..as i can't really deal with the ugliness..hate to even drive anywhere and see it.

i'll be right on them next year for sure..i'll have the wasps ordered and ready to go by may next year !!!

and lots of bt and WD40 on hand..sure it is toxic..but dang..gotta keep myself sane here..i would probably be dreaming of being cocooned in a tent worm nest !!
 
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Just curious about the WD40. Is it your weapon of choice because it's handy, or have you tried other stuff too? Is it the least toxic choice of what's available? Don't get me wrong, I'm all about killing something dead when you want it gone. It's just that WD40 is so oily I would think it would cling to the trees (or anything else it came in contact with) for a while. If songbirds come into your yard and consume some of those grease covered worms, would it have an affect on them? 
 
Leah Sattler
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I'm curious about the wd40 too?? I tend to grab whatever is handy to kill things too but that one I hadn't thought of it does seem like it could hang around a bit longer than is ideal and could cause some other problems. I know you said its dry there but if you got a good rain at some point maybe a flame weeder would be a more enviro freindly solution..... to the ones you could reach at least.
 
Brenda Groth
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No the WD40 was not a first choice and before this year i never would have used it at all..however..we used to use only BT and fire..however..this year the entire state of michigan was under a flash fire warning..and when you have  thousands of tent worm nests in just a couple of acres..you have to find a way to eradicate them.

ON the television they were telling people to go to the WD40 as it is a light oil and will not do a lot of damage to the trees or the woods..where as the fire will cause terrible damage if it gets out of hand.

with flash fire warnings up until tomorrow when we are to get some rain..there was little choice unless you used BT..which i did on the trees that still had leaves on them..as the worms eat the leaves sprayed with the b t and then died.

however..when you have acres that have no leaves left as the worms have defoiliated the entire area..and you see a 1ft x 1ft next with literally hundreds of worms hunkered down on the shade side of the nest hiding from the sun..you attack the nests themselves..not the tree.

you take that little straw on the WD40 sprayer and you stick that sucker down into that nest and you hit the trigger..the worms are dead in seconds..no more breeding..no more eating..no more walking away to kill another tree.

i can walk 50' beyond our property line and see literally entire woods that are nearly stripped bare of all their foliage..but here on our property..there are a few trees that have been stripped bare..and then there are all the rest with leaves.

i know i didn't get ALL the worms..but I got millions of them..and for me..this is war..i love my trees..i plant several new trees every year..and I'm not going to allow some freak of nature that has gotten ahead of the birds..to kill my entire property..like they have everywhere else in our area..

several years ago it was the gypsy moth..they didn't form nests..but we would spray the trees with BT and we nearly eradicated the invasion in 2 years..

but this year it is the army worms...and it is the ugliest thing you ever saw !!
 
paul wheaton
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How can we get to a space where the idea of using WD40 this way is absolutely unacceptable?  While I don't have any double blind studies in my pocket, I cannot help but think that when the birds eat the caterpillars covered in wd40 that they will probably die and then not be around to eat caterpillars next year.  Nor will their babies - cuz they didn't have any.

PLEASE, let's figure out something that is easier and more effective than Wd40.

Those predatory wasps sound good.  BT sounds good.  If there is a certain kind of bird that things tent caterpillars are yummy, is there a way to encourage them? 

If the whole county is out spraying wd40, then I cannot help but think that you've wiped out the natural predators, so no wonder the caterpillars are getting so out of control.



 
Brenda Groth
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the Baltimore orioles will eat the cataerpillars..but NOT in the nest..they eat them as they climb up into the tree to feed on the leaves..when you spray them they die instantly..and don't climb up to feed..so the birds aren't going to be eating them and dying..trust me..my baltimore orioles are all fine..and they aren't eating the dead worms inside the nests..there are plenty of worms that are out on forays..that are NOT getting treated and the birds are eating them.

i certainly understand your concern and if i had been able to know about and get the wasps before this all out attack on our forests began this year..i would have..but i wasn't able to and I wasn't going to let them kill all of my trees either.

had i been prepared for this attack i would have had the wasps on hand..however..i did not ..and by the time i was to get some it would be too late..the worms are already nearly adult size.

and the trees..well the local officials are saying..one more year of devastation will kill the trees..and then ..just like the gypsy moths devastated the oak and other tree population and they all ended up being  cut down ..dead..for firewood..then these worms will devastate another family or two of trees and then we'll lose those too...and then with the ash tree borer devastating entire forests of trees..what will there be left.

i chose to kill the worms..period...sure it might have not been someone elses choice..but if i was to drive down the road with my video camera and show you what we are facing..i'm sure you would probably be thinking drastically too.
 
paul wheaton
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I cannot help but think that the Wd40 is causing a lot of problems along with solutions. 

Surely there are many other ways to deal with this problem without causing problems. 

If you want to spray an oil, why not spray an edible oil?

 
Leah Sattler
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Brenda Groth wrote:

i can walk 50' beyond our property line and see literally entire woods that are nearly stripped bare of all their foliage.




that is so awful! I have seen it here and I know how depressing it can be. you are in a perfect situation to experiment just a little though! maybe you can help us all out in the future by finding out some alternatives to use.  I imagine that the local officials were needing to find something that every average homeowner could do to help stop the invasion and haven't put much thought into it beyond somebody walking out into their yard. trying out the wd40. confirming that worked and assuming most people have wd40 on hand before making that reccomendation. and in an emergency plaque of sorts sometimes dealing with the initial wave somehow ends up being higher on the priority list than the possible consequences of the 'cure'.

right now we don't have a problem with them but I certainly would like to have some things in my arsenal (preferably not wd40 ) for when we do encounter them. I'm real curious about the use of an edible oil. getting it in there might be the hard part. would the nozzle on a back pack sprayer clog with an oil?
 
Brenda Groth
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i do have the safe oils for my fruit trees..it doesn't phase them at all..unfortunately..the oils that i have bought from organic suppliers to spray the fruit trees as a dormant oil and throughout the season..

i also have an older dormant oil called "safer" and it also does NOT work on the worms..

any of the worms that escaped from the sprays also rebuild more nests..we have to go back out and remove them again..husband just spent this morning cutting branches out of trees, taking them to the driveway and incinerating them..we can do that today cause we have rain..but with the flash fire warnings..you would have gone to jail if you did that last week..and I live 2 doors down from a DNR agent...so I'm not taking chances with that.

ther are no fires allowed..even contained fires other than in your barbeque grill in the entire state of Michigan ..period..end of storey.

fire is the best way to kill them..however..they do drop off the tree when they feel the heat and a lot of them survive in the grass and just walk up another tree..

bt is the best way to kill them if there are leaves left on the tree..however..most of the trees were already stripped of leaves in about a 24 to 48 hour period that the worms were on or near..so there were no leaves to spray..spraying the worms themselves with bt is useless..

if you don't kill them..there will be egss by the gazillions for next year.

i will have to be prepared with the bt and the wasps for next year..as seeing the millions of untreated worms this year..next year it will kill everything !!

even our hard frosts 24 degrees 4 days last week..didn't do any good..32 yesteray morning..and likely a hard frost on Friday..they just cluster up in the nests and keep each other warm i guess.

Lord help us.
 
Leah Sattler
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well. if there isn't a good organic 'best' solution. the answer has to be a 'better' solution. heck if I know what it would be though! I seem to remember that I had pretty good success  with the soap after blasting the nest open with water but that was many years ago.

I can come up with some weird ideas for this one.......dry ice in the nest? that would be a pain in the petunia. and they would probably drop out before they suffocated.

how about a really expensive idea.......anyone got a nitrogen tank? you could freeze dry the buggers and feed them to the birds in the winter. perfect! in theory.

ok ok I know. I'm useless. but it is fun to come up with ideas. even if they aren't so realistic
 
Brenda Groth
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i know i need to go take some photos..you would not believe this..you probably all think i'm out of my mind..
 
Gwen Lynn
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Nope, I don't think you're outta your mind. I've had tent worms/web worms, whatever, in my mulberry tree. One year they defoliated the whole tree. (Besides providing shade), it was the most useful our mulberry tree has ever been...food for worms! It's the wrong sex for berries, dang it! There is a small web from worms in it now, which is weird. I don't usually see them until late summer. I don't see any worms in the web though. Need to prune off the branch, it's small & within reach. How do you get at the worms in the treetops with a can of WD40? You got a really tall ladder? Your apple tree looks pretty tall.

Anyhoo, I could see where those worms can get really out of hand, especially if there's a lot of fruit trees around. That would be very frustrating indeed.
 
Gwen Lynn
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Earlier in this thread, Paul mentioned pruning a branch (with tent worms) and burning it. Well, I just pruned a branch, stuck it in a bucket & poured boiling water on it. (Don't have time to build a fire just now.)

So, can I interest anyone in some worm stew with mulberry leaves? The worms hissed just like lobsters do when you boil them! ( just kidding!)

Leah, I'll freeze some for our next visit! LOL! 
 
Brenda Groth
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this infestion is such that there is no pruning out a branch, they are over the entire trees..like i said it looks like an sci fi spider movie..then have entombed the whole tree..sure we have had years where there were few enough to remove a branch or too..but this isn't a few or even a few hundred worms, there are as many as 100 nests in one tree, and in some areas, every single tree.

Obviously a problem when it is news headlines ..they did say on the news today that there is only 1 week left in the feeding cycle of the worms and then they will turn to moths..so if you didn't get them this week, basically it is too late.

this is a situation that is making everyone basically sick to their stomachs to even go anywhere..seeing the devastation..100 foot tall websites..acre after acre, mile after mile, you do what you can do.
 
Gwen Lynn
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I can only imagine how it must look. I didn't mean to make light of your situation. I just thought I'd contribute that about the boiling water for people who might be in a situation where they can't burn and have only a small infestation.

Sorry to sound negative here, but the way you've described it in your posts, it almost sounds like a battle that can't really be won. Hope your place isn't hit has hard as other areas!
 
paul wheaton
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Brenda Groth
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pictures..oh gross..well we'll see if i can handle taking my camera with me this weekend and getting some photos of them..generally don't stop my car on the expressways and get out and take photos..kinda dangerous..esp with memorial week..but i'll give it a try..this weekend..

my house i have killed them all..or most of them..so i'm not allowing the entombing of my property, and my neighbor has taken care of theirs as well, they borrowed BT from me and they also used the WD40 (I know you guys hate that..i do to..but as i said you do what you have to)..

we'll see about getting some photos this weekend..
 
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Talk about reviving old posts.. So we have a big problem at our newly purchased property with 300 apple trees plus plum cherry etc.. Guess what - western tent caterpillar! We are on the Olympic Peninsula of WA and it's been bad for the past couple years.. My trees are dwarf and we are taking away buckets and buckets of the caterpillars and pruned stems.. Bt is something we may try but has anyone used soapy water spray in them (that's what your supposed to drown them in according to extension material..)
 
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I find a long stick and work the web like cotton candy trapping most of the worms and removing the web from the tree...sometimes cutting and burning a branch but usually just try to get most of the worms out before they eat too much and I think they just die without leaves to feed on. Over the winter I look for the egg cases on my fruit trees and scrap them off. I don't know what I would do if I had hundreds? of fruit trees though. I'll try to find an egg case on my trees and post a picture. Surely they have a predator but I don't know of one. There are some every year here but not out of balance it seems.
 
Nick Segner
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Thanks Judith. Yep I've found many egg cases already and are removing those.. I will try your cotton candy approach for the ones I can't reach!
 
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