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Fuzzy facts: Increase in caterpillars

Updated: Tuesday, May 27 2014, 07:07 PM EDT

WTOV9.com
JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ohio -- If you've been outside a lot lately, chances are good you have noticed some fuzzy friends -- or foes -- crawling around in the Eastern Tent Caterpillars.
They aren't new to the area. In fact, in Eastern Ohio, they date back to the 1600s.
This year in particular, there are plenty to be found. Instead of turning into beautiful butterflies, they are actually in the middle stages of becoming a moth.
"It’s very large, about an inch and a half in diameter moth,” said Sarah Cross, an educator at the Jefferson County OSU Extension Office. “In the winter, the moths will lay eggs in this dark egg mast.”
Before that happens, they build tents, which you may have also noticed. For most of us, they are just a nuisance, but for others, they could do some damage.
“They aren't going to be a problem for the common home owner,” Cross said. “If you have a small ornamental tree, especially a cherry, it could defoliate the tree and kill it, but it's not usually a problem. It's usually not this widespread either.”
Since the caterpillars are on their way to cocoon for their rest period, it's a little too late to try and control them.
But for next year, educators say there is a fix using store-bought pesticides.
“You want to get them in the early spring when you first start to see these nests developing,” Cross said. “Then you want to spray directly in the nest to get an adequate kill.”

Fuzzy facts: Increase in caterpillars


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