Archive for Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Summertime pests invade countys trees and lawns

August 30, 2000

Some telltale signs of a mild winter and a hot, dry summer are cropping up in area lawns and trees.

Tent caterpillars, which envelop tree branches, are prolific this summer.

I think there are more of them now than I remember in the last few years, said Sy Nyhart, Leavenworth County extension agent. We had a mild winter last year, which probably didnt get rid of a lot of them. So more of them survived.

The caterpillars build a web-like sack around the ends of tree branches. The caterpillars and their sacks are ugly, but not overly harmful to trees, Nyhart said.

Theyre rather unsightly, and they decrease the foliage, he said. Out in the wild, nobody does anything to them. Theyre not going to kill the trees.

Sometimes, people cut off the branch and burn it, along with the caterpillars. Nyhart cautioned, however, to destroy the caterpillars.

Ive even seen people take them and put them in a burning barrel and not burn them, he said. And theyve climbed up the inside of the barrel.

The sack, or tent, protects the caterpillars, Nyhart said. So tree owners can slice open the sack, to spray the caterpillars X or in hopes that birds would eat the caterpillars.

Other pesky creatures X army worms X have wriggled through Kansas lawns, leaving brown patches in their wake.

From the best I can tell, its all over the state, certainly all over eastern Kansas, Nyhart said. Theyre worse this year, by far.

The extension agent said hes heard from entomologists that hot, dry weather in Texas has pushed adult army worms X which resemble moths X to the north.

They fly into an area and lay eggs on trees, bushes, houses X wherever they happen to land, Nyhart said.

Once the eggs hatch, the worms grow, shedding their skin eight times before they become adults, a process that takes four to six weeks, Nyhart said.

They tend to like grasses, he said. K They dont go into the ground, so they dont eat at the crown of the grass.

Worms dont do much permanent damage, although they leave brown areas on lawns.

They arent killing the grass, but they are putting stress on it in these hot droughty conditions, Nyhart said.

Nyhart said the worms are an inch to 1.25 inches long, and about a quarter-inch in diameter. Theyre light green, sometimes nearly black, with tan stripes on their sides.

Sprays X including Sevin, Diazinon, Dursban and Malathion X are effective.

Theyre not particularly hard to kill, Nyhart said.

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