Well, not worms really. Tent caterpillars. You can see the little babies in the photo above, along with all their little droppings (YUK).
Last year was a “bloom” year for these nasty crawlies on the island I live on here in the Northwest. They were everywhere. Ev.er.y.where. On the trees? Yes. On your car? Yes. In your hair? Your shoe? your collar? YES. They populate the tree canopy till it is so full that they burst forth like some horrible demon fart onto your lawn, garden, and person.
So…that was last year. This year, not so much. But I did find a nest of them on a dwarf cherry I was liberating from the confines of a large pot today.
So how to combat these tiny tyrants without using a chemical laden pesticide (or a blowtorch)?
Enter Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis). This is usually marketed under the name “Thuricide“, and although I’m not usually fond of using any product with “-icide” in its name, this one is an exception. Bt is generally considered safe for use around children and pets, and is used in organic gardening and farming. In fact you can easily obtain organic Bt from your local garden supply store, or if you would like to support this little blog, from the affiliate link above. (I am not paid in any way for this review, this is merely my experience with the product.)
Bt is a soil-dwelling bacteria found widely in nature, but in its concentrated liquid spray form targets the larvae of the insect species Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies). So don’t spray this on your butterfly-attracting garden species. The way it works is that the larvae eat the bacteria, and the digestive enzymes of the caterpillar allow the release of a toxin that paralyzes the digestive tract.
I have found that his stuff works wonders. Even though it is natural and organic, be sure to follow the label directions. Wash your hands, don’t get it in your eyes, take the necessary precautions.
A few tips:
- Be sure to either clip off affected areas of your tree, or open up the nasty little cocoon that they make to protect themselves from predators before you spray. The spray does not always penetrate the nest.
- Be sure to spray as often as the label tells you to. This is not a chemical pesticide that will keep working over long periods of time.
- Bt only works on the laval stage, another reason to keep up with your spraying regimen.
Good luck! You have a formidable foe…
A disclosure about affiliate links: Affiliate links allow me to make a small commission from sales related to posts. This is what keeps Funny Little Farm up and running, so if you would like to support the farm and you see something you need, this is a great place to get it!