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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:16 am 
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I just noticed some brownish grey caterpillars that are completely defoliating my red oak leaves. What are these and what do I do about them? Thanks for any suggestions. I don't know how to include a photo of the caterpillar, but I have one if someone can tell me how to upload it.


Last edited by alclubb on Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:54 am 
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Can you tell what kind of worm or bug they actually are? Are they caterpillars, or are they bag worms, or something else? Are there webs in the tree? Have you gotten a good close look at the worms?

Here is the newsletter about bagworms.

Caterpillars

There are other kids of worms and caterpillars, you may want to look through the Natural Organic Library.

How large is the tree? If it's small you can put some Bt in a backpack pump or use a hose end sprayer and spray the entire tree. If you have bagworms, you may need to hand-pick the casings (again, if it is a small tree and you can reach them).

If it is a larger tree you'll have to just treat what you can reach with the Bt. Next year put out some tricagramma wasps, and over the winter you may need to spray an essential oil if it is something like bagworms. Don't spray neem this time of year, you'll kill the tree outright. Neem needs to be used in the coolest part of the day and preferably in cooler weather.

This is a smattering of information - your first assignment is to get close to the worms and get a good photo of the worms and the damage. Close up photos are very helpful if they're in focus. This thread can accept photos, so if you can get photos and size them to fit (about 1000px wide and/or tall), add them to the thread. Loading to the forum requires fairly small photos. If you use a computer and can load them into Flickr or Photobucket, or if you manage photos with Picasa, any of those will let you either load the photos here or paste in the link from the place where they are hosted.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:57 am 
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They are not bag worms and there are no webs in the tree. The caterpillar is greenish with a yellowish head and red spots along the side. They are about 1 1/2" - 2" long, I think. I have a picture of them, but not on a web site where I can link to it. And they are not fuzzy - they only have a few hairs on them, but nothing like a really fuzzy caterpillar.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:01 pm 
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OK, we took some of the caterpillars to Calloway's and they didn't know what they were but said BT should take care of them. Will start spraying the tree tonight and hope it works. It's a rather large tree and I don't think there is any way we can get all the way to the top of it, but will give it the old college try.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 10:23 pm 
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Keep the Bt as confined to the tree as you can because it can harm butterflies in the area. It's a useful treatment for pest caterpillars and worms, but shouldn't be broadcast indiscriminately.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:08 am 
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Thank you. We'll try to keep it on the tree, but it's a very large tree that takes up most of my back yard.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:32 pm 
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In the future you can keep caterpillars out of the garden by not spraying the paper wasp nests that get built under your eaves. Those wasps feed caterpillars to their young.

The only trick to these wasps is you have to learn to not wave your arms around or swat at them. It takes some training on your part but the reward is permanent caterpillar control. I had a population of about 300 wasps in 30 or so nests last year. That's a lot of caterpillars.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 6:13 am 
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Thanks for the tip. I haven't seen any of those paper wasp nests, but we do have a lot of mud daubber nests. We are totally organic and have never used chemicals on our yard in the whole 18 years since we built the house. When is the best time to put out the trichigramma wasps next year?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:48 pm 
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Quote:
Trichogramma wasps must be put out before the pests hatch and start eating.


From the Trichogramma Wasps Newsletter.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:39 am 
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I read the newsletter on trichigramma wasps, but it says you have to put them out before the caterpillars are feeding. How would I know what time of year to do that? I didn't know these were there until I saw the damage on the tree and saw the caterpillars all over the leaves. I finally found a picture on the Internet of the caterpillars that are on my tree. I hope this link shows up: http://bugguide.net/node/view/661214


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 9:59 am 
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To treat them now, use Bt, to get ahead of them next year, put out trichogramma wasps in the early spring. It's a good idea to put them out when you are preparing to put in your garden, and that will work for the tree as well.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:24 am 
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GREAT! Thank you. I'll certainly put them out next year. I appreciate your help.


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