Published on June 24, 2014
A forest tent caterpillar is seen on the side of the Daily Herald buidling in downtown Prince Albert on Tuesday.
Herald photo by Tyler Clarke
Published on June 24, 2014
Forest tent caterpillars are seen covering some of the outside play equipment at the Lakeland Early Learning Co-operative in Christopher Lake.
Herald photo by Megan Munro
A horror movie could be filmed in the Christopher Lake area this week, Village of Christopher Lake Mayor Denis Daughton suggested.
His suggestion appears as less of a joke once he explains how thick the forest tent caterpillar infestation currently is in his area.
Infestations are supposed to take place about once per decade, but Daughton said that he hasnât seen so many caterpillars since the late â70s.
âTheyâre everywhere,â he said. âTheyâre all over the buildings and theyâve devoured most of my choke cherries. Theyâve stripped the leaves. There are no leaves.â
Sections of forest look more like autumn than they do summer and areas of highway are so thick with caterpillars that vehicles are sliding.
âYou can see it on the roads, where the centre of the road where the tires hit them become darker on the pavement,â the mayor noted.
At the Lakeland Early Learning Co-operative, director Erin Dyck said that children are confined indoors due to the blanket of caterpillars waiting for them outside.
âSome children are fine with bugs and some arenât, and normally when youâre outside and they are here and there itâs OK, but when your whole backyard is covered in them, then it becomes an issue for those children,â she said.
On the plus side, none of the children have tried to figure out how the caterpillars taste.
âNot yet, anyway,â Dyck said with a chuckle. âKnock on wood,â
The current forest tent caterpillar infestation is expected to continue until mid-July, at which point the caterpillars will spin themselves into silken cocoons.
After about 10 days in their cocoons, adult moths will emerge, mate, and die within five to 10 days.
They eggs they lay will emerge as next yearâs round of tent caterpillars next year around the same time as this yearâs influx.
Both the District of Lakeland and Village of Lakeland have adopted the âwait and seeâ approach in dealing with the caterpillars.
Theyâre all over the buildings and theyâve devoured most of my choke cherries. Theyâve stripped the leaves. There are no leaves. Denis Daughton
âOur consultant has indicated that itâs a two to three-year cycle and that it wonât kill the trees,â District of Lakeland administrator Dave Dmytruk explained. âItâll just set them back a bit.â
If this assessment proves accurate, itâs likely that the areaâs elected officials opt to continue with their no-spray approach.
The District of Lakeland sprayed for spruce bud worms two years ago at a cost of more than $30,000, Dmytruk explained, noting that spraying for the forest tent caterpillars would have been even more expensive.
On top of the cost, spraying brings environmental concerns, Daughton said, noting that while some sprays appear environmentally friendly they often kill more than just the targeted species.
âIn the old days we used malathion, and malathion kills everything,â he said.
Although the City of Winnipeg remains a notable user of malathion to kill mosquitoes, itâs known to kill all insects, including beneficial ones, such as honeybees.
For now, the wait and see approach will continue, although if it appears as though area trees are at risk of dying, other options will be looked into.
âThey donât bite and they donât sting people or poison them,â Daughton summarized. âTheyâre just creepy little things, thatâs all.â
This yearâs forest tent caterpillar infestation has appeared in small pockets throughout the Prairies, with the city of Prince Albert mostly spared.
City assistant parks manager Dan Sadlowski said that while there are some caterpillars in the city, no alarm bells have been ringing at the city.
However, if residents note a significant infestation theyâre encouraged to call City Hall to look into it.