Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Eastern tent caterpillar is an annually occurring insect pest throughout hardwood forests in the eastern US.  As these caterpillars progress through their instar phases they will totally strip cherry trees, often causing concern with forest landowners.  Cherry is pretty well adapted to these pests, and new leaves will pop when the larval stages are done.  They were in the news several years ago because of the toxicity of cherry leaves to livestock.  It seems that the droppings from the caterpillars are poisonous also, and they caused pregnant horses to abort in the Bluegrass of Kentucky.  It's a good lesson for anyone who keeps horses or cattle.  Don't allow cherry trees to grow in a pasture, or hang over the fence from the outside.  Farm kids used to know that from an early age, learning it from their elders, but not too many people are aware of the problem today.

On a related note, Ohio buckeye is making a comeback in some areas.  Buckeyes are toxic, and can kill a cow.  Settlers worked on eliminating buckeyes as they moved west, but now that cattle very seldom are allowed to roam in timber, the species is multiplying in many locales.  Buckeye is a light, easily carved wood, and it was used for making artificial limbs in the pre-plastic eras.  The Civil War, and Nineteenth Century railroading kept a lot of woodcarvers busy with chunks of Ohio buckeye.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey True Blue Sam, Jim from DSAC here. I also have noticed the resurgence of the buckeye. Whats going on with that? I have seem more buckeye seedlings popping up in more places than I have ever seen before?

TrueBlueSam said...

It's a serious situation when your milk cow dies, and settlers worked hard to kill out buckeyes where their cows might roam. Nobody is doing that today. Cows today die from aluminum cans and other hardware that passersby sail over the fence.