Year of the Worm

Before you search for the Chinese zodiac, this is not one of those. It’s one of those delightful Michigan seasons such as construction season when orange barrels are in full bloom; tourist season…which fuels a good deal of Northern Michigan economy so I can’t say much else. Mother nature experiences different seasons or years. Last year saw a spike in honeydew, which is actually produced by aphids and/or scale insects. Most animal populations go through cycles with peaks and valleys. This is the year of the forest worm.

  • Spring: Eastern Tent Caterpillars making their “tents” in cherry and apple trees.
  • Summer: Forest Tent Caterpillars feasting on maple leaves. These caterpillars do not actually make tents, and are sometimes called “armyworms”
  • Late summer: Gypsy moth eating oak leaves.
  • Fall: Fall webworms (fittingly named) feed on a variety of hardwood trees. They create large, loosely woven, silk “tents” that are really more like webs. These webs wrap around on or more shoots enclosing both leaves and twigs, see the photos below.

The defoliation from such frenzied eating can be quite alarming, especially if it’s happening to your landscape trees. However, all of the above mentioned leaf eating caterpillars pose no serious threat to the life of the tree. If they all ate the same species or had a peak population two or three years in a row, a scenario such as that may cause serious stress or death of the tree. You can help your landscape hardwoods through the defoliation by making sure they are well watered.

For additional help and information contact Larry Czelusta, district forester, at larry.czelusta@macd.org or call 231.839.7193 to leave him a contact number (he is often traipsing around the woods).

It is also the year of the Fire Rooster, year of Jubilee…among other declarations.

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