The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree

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These worms were found on a bush near the recreation center. The last significant infestation was in and , and the next one may be as early as Yeah, you might want to rethink that. The cyclical invasion of forest tent caterpillars, which has mostly avoided northern Minnesota for the past decade, appears ready to unfold in and Aerial surveys, released in a report this week, show forest tent caterpillars quadrupled their coverage area from a quarter-million acres of forest defoliated in to nearly 1. That big jump is usually a bellwether for a major infestation, said Jana Albers, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources forest health specialist.

Bug experts used aerial surveys of more than 16 million acres of northern and central Minnesota at what should be peak leaf-out time last June. They found all but one of the forested counties in Minnesota had at least some defoliation caused by forest tent caterpillars.

A similar spike from to preceded a record outbreak that lasted from to , with nearly 8 million acres of Minnesota forest defoliated in Now that bug experts have seen the Minnesota population spike, they know it means a caterpillar outbreak is coming. Albers said a few things are still weighing on that forecast, puzzling factors that may hold off the peak for another year.

And while defoliation was widespread in , it was fairly light.

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Experts will know more after counting egg masses on trees across the region later this winter. The insects hatch in May, emerging as small caterpillars to munch on green leaves — especially aspen or poplar — soon after leaves sprout. The caterpillars eat and eat and eat through several caterpillar stages , then spin cocoons, or tents, where they metamorphose into small, buff-colored moths.

The moths hatch and mate in early July, lay eggs and die. The eggs overwinter and start the cycle all over again. The insects are natives and are well-suited to survive the coldest winters. They are now very snug in egg masses laid on tree branches. At their peak infestation, forest tent caterpillars can number from 1 million to 4 million per acre.

They can create a maddening nuisance to people living or vacationing in the region, both in rural and urban areas. Young caterpillars spin threads and fall from the trees onto picnic tables, patios and people. Mature caterpillars wander widely in search of food and often appear to migrate across roads and open areas. Resting caterpillars commonly form large clusters on buildings, tree stems, cars, campers and other stationary objects. If they run out of aspen, oak, birch and basswood — their favorites — they will gladly munch on apple tree leaves and even garden vegetables.

Forest tent caterpillars sometimes wrongly called army worms, which are a different species often emit a greenish-black fluid when disturbed that stains paint and clothing. During the height of defoliation, their excrement often rains down from tree branches above.

The caterpillars eventually become so numerous that they eat themselves out of food before they can mature, and then die off by the millions from starvation and disease. Their demise also is hastened by the so-called friendly fly, a predator whose numbers build a year or so after the caterpillar numbers. Earn prowess and rank up as you interact with Londolozi Live and earn a spot on the monthly points leaderboard. Chat with other Londolozi Live Explorers and with your favourite Contributors from the Londolozi team about their photos and stories from the wild.

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Need a camera for your stay? Book it online and hassle free. Travel to Londolozi light and easy. We drive around a corner only to be stopped by a long train of hairy caterpillars blocking our pathway.

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This timely phenomenon is the caterpillar phase of the processionary moths or Anaphe reticulate from the Notodontidae family. Once the eggs hatch, in this area usually near a Grewia tree Wild Raisin they begin to feed on the leaves of their first host plant. Once having devoured every last leaf, they trail off in single-file to their next meal. Head to toe in a straight line, these caterpillars follow a silken thread started by their leader. If the line gets disturbed, they come to a complete stop and are disorientated for a while before a new leader takes control and leads the sometimes up to odd larvae onwards.

The long line of processionary caterpillars snake their way up a marula tree. An individual caterpillar peeks its head up to see what is happening up ahead. Beautiful textures of these hairy creatures against the bark of a marula tree. My guests and I were kept very entertained during a recent coffee break at Rhino Dam, while a procession of a couple of hundred caterpillars wound their way up a giant marula tree. We were able to track the silken thread and figure out which direction they had come from and then watched in amazement at the speed in which they ascended the tree.

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At one point at the base of the marula, there seemed to be a bit of confusion as to who was next in line but very amiably, they seemed to sort the order out quite quickly and continue with their journey upwards. With perfect morning sunrays lighting up the tree, we spent a good half an hour snapping away in awe of these fascinating creatures.

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Ben and Koen enjoy some close up photography of these interesting caterpillars. The silken thread left behind by the train of caterpillars. The mass of caterpillars before one takes control and takes lead. The final stage of Anaphe Reticulata in its moth form — Image courtesy of www. Rich took some amazing footage of these incredible caterpillars, see the video below and let us know in the comments section below if you have ever seen caterpillars behaving like this?

Filed under Wildlife. Andrea has an energy that is hard to match. It's difficult to find anything in the bush that she doesn't get excited about, whether it's the molluscs in the Sand River, setting up camera traps all over the show to try and capture You must be logged in to post a comment. Fantastic pics, Andrea! Thanks again for the lovely two days we got to spend with you and Bennet dodging caterpillars between wonderful cheetah and leopard sightings. Great blog, photos and video Andrea and Richard, thanks for sharing. We got to see these amazing caterpillars when we were in the Sabi Sands in May..

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The Caterpillar & The Worm

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Glow worms

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Curate your own gallery NEW. Purchase full res photos NEW. Back Sign up. Wildlife Long Trains of Hairy Caterpillars. Andrea Campbell May 31, 6.

Gypsy moth caterpillars once again attacking trees in Michigan

Follow the leader! About the Author. Andrea Campbell Field Guide P pts. Therese Cooper Member.

The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree
The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree
The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree
The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree
The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree
The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree The Caterpillar & The Worm:A Conversation on the Tree

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