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Old 06-22-2012, 07:30 PM   #1
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Default tent caterpillars on Baptisia

tent caterpillars on Baptisia-genista-broom-moth-caterpillar-uresiphita-reversalis-baptisia-early-instar-2012.jpg

I have already identified my pests - they are Genista Broom Moth caterpillars, aka Sophora Moth caterpillars, and they have killed several of my baby baptisias and have stripped the of twelve canes of my most established baptisia. I have handpicked about a hundred of them, and fed them to my fish (who ate the first 75 or so, then decided they had had enough!), and disrupted the tents.

Have any of you had any experience with these guys? I really don't like to use any pesticides, but my usual predators don't seem to be able to take care of them inside the tents. I have a bunch more baptisias that I planted this year that I don't want to lose.

Interestingly, this is the first year I have seen these guys, and I have had my large baptisia for almost five years now.

And, just in case more poor plant hadn't enough problems, I watched a wild indigo duskywing laying eggs on its remaining canes today. I didn't stop her, since I did plant my garden to be larval food plants, but it did seem to be adding insult to injury.
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Old 06-22-2012, 10:39 PM   #2
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No experience with those. I did look em up though. They're Uresiphita reversalis and they're a native so I'm sure they fill a niche. Attractive looking moth by the way but If you picked off 100 and they're still out there in numbers great enough to destroy your seedlings.... you're probably gonna have to keep picking em off by hand because the only pesticides you could get your hands on that will kill those cats will kill other cats that are desirable to you. That's a big time problem for a property like yours. This is probably gonna go over like a lead balloon but.... I'll toss it out there anyway. You don't have any neighbors who would loan you a few chickens for a morning do you? Chickens could save your back and your sanity. They're bottomless pits when it comes to big fat juicy cats. You could stick 4 stakes in the ground around the areas where you've planted your baptisias then wrap something like this around the stakes, 5 ft. x 100 ft. Welded Wire-308313B at The Home Depot. It comes in much smaller lengths and it's easy to take down.
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Old 06-22-2012, 11:17 PM   #3
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The area I live in and several of the counties further north of me are experiencing a tent caterpiller outbreak this summer. In some places, entire stands of trees have been defoliated. Outbreaks like this turn up every 5 years or so.

Did you know that a single bear on average can eat around 25,000 tent caterpillars in one day?
Solution to your problem: Get a bear.

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Old 06-22-2012, 11:29 PM   #4
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Hmmmm.... I think you're onto something there. Bear trumps chickens if it can eat cats in the thousands!!! She wouldn't even need to spend money on posts and temporary fencing if she got a lil black bear!!!
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Old 06-23-2012, 06:20 AM   #5
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I don't know Turttle's neighborhood, but around here we'd have an easier time getting permits for temporary chickens than for a bear. . . .
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Old 07-06-2012, 07:32 PM   #6
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You two are hilarious! I think I will pass on the bear. It would eat my caterpillars, then proceed to eat all of my fish, frogs, toads, wild blueberries, you name it, and never want to go back to Wisconsin after it learned about our winters here.

Chickens are not a bad idea. I have a good friend with chickens.

I did recheck today, and there are more of the little devils, much earlier instar, and a couple of duskywing caterpillars, too. The plant has put out some leaves on its previously stripped canes.

It is kind of interesting. I have about a dozen baptisias, of different species and cultivars. I have only found these guys on four, one large one that has been mostly stripped, two other relatively small plants that I could be sure I got all the caterpillars off of, and one seedling that is probably a goner (and I am sure they are responsible for my other seedlings being gone.) The seedlings were all from the same large plant (Baptisia hybrid, "Prairie smoke", that is being decimated. They clearly have taste preferences, despite the theory that they can eat all baptisias as well as other things. They have left my Carolina lupine (Thermopsis villosa) alone, too.

I have seen rosy pink moths fluttering around, which I assume are the adults. I am hoping my mantids and assassin bugs get them!
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