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Published June 24, 2009, 06:13 PM

Seasonal crawlers not a threat, says DNR

Tent caterpillars are on the march across much of Wisconsin this spring. The Department of Natural Resources says the worms are crawling their way from Dane County to Douglas County.

By: By Mike Simonson/Wisconsin Public Radio , Superior Telegram

Tent caterpillars are on the march across much of Wisconsin this spring. The Department of Natural Resources says the worms are crawling their way from Dane County to Douglas County.

But this isn’t the same bug that strips entire forests every seven to ten years. This is the eastern tent caterpillar, not the infamous forest tent caterpillar, better known as army worms.

Forest Health Specialist Shane Weber is with the DNR in Spooner. He says the eastern tent caterpillar also has a big appetite for leaves, but isn’t as voracious. Weber says the white, two-inch hairy worm can be a bit on the gross side as it attacks apple, cherry and wild plum trees. He says they’re not a terribly serious problem, and while a single cherry tree may have as many as half a dozen of the worms and wind up completely denuded, the tree will recover just fine.

As for the resurgence of its cousin the forest tent caterpillar, Weber says it won’t be this summer, but maybe in the next two years.

As for the remedy to eastern tent caterpillars, it’s a nice bubble bath. Pick them off the tree with rubber gloves – because they are gross – and drop them into soapy water. The end will come before the next morning.

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