DI's caterpillar craze!

Over the past few weeks, we have experienced an “outbreak” of caterpillars that appear to be colonizing on many of our deciduous trees including our various oaks along our streetscape. According to an analysis from Bartlett Tree Experts, the caterpillar is the yellow-necked caterpillar. They are a pest of many shade trees and are thriving throughout the eastern U.S.

Generally, these adults appear in the months of June and July, but seem to be a little late to the game on Daniel Island and arrived en masse for August. The adults will eat solely the foliage and strip a deciduous tree of its leaves quickly, but do not damage the branches, wood, and cambia of the tree. Damage is cosmetic more than biological. Once the adults are adequately fed, they will hatch eggs and the larvae will burrow into the ground over winter.

How do you manage these pests from eating our leaves for the following year? Birds, flies and bugs attack these species as they hatch in June and July. Environmental factors will also play a part in their arrival or departure. If white masses of eggs are on the leaves, prune those sections of the tree and bag it immediately. There are some insecticides which can be used in their larval stage, but is more beneficial in a residential landscape than attacking from a complete streetscape such as Daniel Island Drive or Seven Farms. We also need to keep in mind that the caterpillar is foraging on a deciduous tree, which will ultimately lose its leaves in the fall/winter anyway. The costs and risks of insecticides, as well as, the short window of unacceptable appearance should be factors in decision in addressing or living with the yellow-necked caterpillar.

Should you have any further questions, feel free to call Chris Hamil, field operations manager for the Daniel Island Property Owners Association, at 843-696-4676 or chris.hamil@dicommunity.org.

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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