Tent caterpillars invade North Battleford

It sounds like a bad science-fiction movie, but an influx of creepy-crawly invaders have indeed arrived to take over North Battleford.

The invaders are tent caterpillars, and not only is the city seeing them, but so is the rest of the province.

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According to communications co-ordinator Robert Oberlander of North Battleford City Hall, they are noticing an increase in the caterpillars this year.

“They’re sort of migratory, but the way they’re moving about, when they’re in your area, they’ll exist (and) they’ll stay in the same area for three to six years.”

This appears to be the second year of the migration. Oberlander said they were in Saskatoon last year as well.

According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture, these outbreaks occur every 10 to 15 years.

The caterpillars are a real nuisance.

“They do not kill trees but they do defoliate them, and foliage should grow back,” said Oberlander.

“The only way a tree would die from their defoliation is if the tree were already under duress in some way, shape or form.” 

The tent caterpillars prefer to eat ash and chokecherry tree leaves, but will consume other tree leaves if those aren’t available.

The city is offering some tips to local residents. Because tent caterpillars are considered a nuisance and do not pose a threat to the lives of the trees, there is no spraying program for tent caterpillars.

However, the city is encouraging residents to use a product containing Bacillus Thuringiensis Kurstaki (BTK) to safely kill the tent caterpillars on their property.

This product can be purchased at local hardware stores and will not harm other insects or damage trees or plants.

In their news release, the city also cites Poulin’s Pest Control Service which suggests homeowners can use different types of pesticides, but great care should be taken when spraying with these products.

Oberlander is encouraging people to follow these tips and to “not do anything reckless” that could endanger the tree or the community.

If the caterpillars do prove to be too much of a challenge, Oberlander advises calling up the pest control service to deal with it.

Anyone with any further questions or concerns about tent caterpillars are free to contact the City’s Urban Forestry Department at 306-445-1748.

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