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Caterpillar problem (birch)


 
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Drakon
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 02 Jun 2014
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Location: Co.Wexford

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 8:31 am    Post subject: Caterpillar problem (birch) Reply with quote

Hi

I have a few 3 year old weeping birches in my garden (Betula Pendula Youngii) and noticed yesterday dozens of caterpillars eating leaves on one of them. To be honest maybe 10% leaves only left. I shook them off and collected them
I think I identified them as Irish moth (could someone confirm)...I am very angry as they were so aggressive. I would say it took them only a few hours to nearly kill my tree
Could you advise on what should I do now, should I spray that tree with something. There are birch trees around, but none was affected. How can I prevent. Will my tree survive? Will they reoccur next year on that tree?



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tagwex
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 23 Feb 2010
Posts: 4178
Location: Co. Wexford

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Drakon, The quickest and probably most reliable answer you will get here is to look up mothman on this forum and send him a PM with your query. He doesn't be on here much as he only answers queries on moths and there don't be too many of them and who knows when he will look in again.
I have seen those caterpillars before but cannot remember their name. Let us know the answer if he doesn't post the answer up here.

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Good guy
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 11 Feb 2013
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Location: Donegal

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ouch! Poor trees! But don't despair - they are probably much tougher than you think, especially if you have them three years and they have been growing well. Keep a carefull eye open for new caterpillars that may hatch and give them a good size 10 if the do appear. The trees will be fine next year, in all probability. I've had gooseberry bushes defoliate do by gooseberry sawfly caterpillars before now and they were perfectly all right the next year.

Meanwhile, It might be a good idea to think about ways of encouraging larger numbers of natural predators through greater biodiversity. It all helps.
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Greengage
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

They look like Buff tip moth caterpillars all part of the eco system. I would not spray them check out the harmful effects of neonicotinoides on our pollinating insects especially bees, ok your trees lost its leaves they would have done so anyway in a few months, it will grow back but insecticides are not specific they will kill everything and work their way up the food chain, spray the tree its taken up by the leaves, kils the insects (inlcuding bees) if it does not kill them they will bring it back to hive in stomach where its mixed with nectar converted to honey which you will then eat......... your decision,
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hear, hear, Greengage. Well said.
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Drakon
Rank attained: Hazel Tree
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Joined: 02 Jun 2014
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Location: Co.Wexford

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks All, I checked the next day and only 2 caterpillars were present on the tree and on the second one that is placed a few meters away I found 1...No more in last few days. I would say when I shook them off I missed them and they claimed back Smile. I think you are right no need for spray...I mean caterpillars don't lay eggs so once they develop into a form of butterfly they are no real danger and they will fly away somewhere else...I don't mind them as a part of the environment, but they just ate my tree Smile...I actually live close to the forest and there is lots of birds around, so surprised they don't pick them. I think the case is they developed so quickly that birds may just have missed them....I just wonder what can I do next year to avoid this problem..probably need to try to do more to attract some particular bird that is their natural predator, but don't know what it is...it's lots of food for birds at this part of the year so they probably don't look for so hard
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Good guy
Rank attained: Chlorophyll for blood


Joined: 11 Feb 2013
Posts: 2356
Location: Donegal

PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thrushes, blackbirds, starlings, magpies, robins......all will eat caterpillars, especially if they are feeding chicks. What may have happened is that the development of the chicks and that of the caterpillars they should have eaten was not in synch this year, due to the odd weather. This seems to be happening quite a bit as the climate warms.
Another useful predator on caterpillars are wasps - they eat loads of them.
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