Caterpillar invasion has people worried about tree damage | News
CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - The caterpillar invasion has homeowners in Chesterfield County worried their trees will suffer.
Experts who work for the county have been inundated with calls about the tiny insects. They're getting calls from all over the county.
We went to one of the worst areas in Chesterfield just off Robious Road. The leaves on trees there look like this, all chewed up. Some are spraying insecticide! A move experts caution against.
We put them under the microscope!
"You can actually see the damage here," said Mike Likins with the Chesterfield Extension office.
This caterpillar is snacking on a cherry tree leaf.
"They really prefer oaks and maples, but a lot times they don't have a choice as to what restaurant they end up in," said Likins.
Likins has been fielding an increasing number of calls about the critters since mid-March.
The big question: "Is it going to kill my tree," said Likins.
Likins said the worst areas for Chesterfield are just south of the James in Bon Air and the Powderham neighborhood off Robious Road. That's where Sharon Robbins lives amongst her unwanted friends.
"Everybody's complaining about them," said Robbins.
Robbins said her neighbors can't help but wonder what will happen to their trees.
"You can see right here all of the leaves are gone," Robbins showed us.
Likins said the caterpillars can put stress on an unhealthy tree, but healthy ones will endure the infestation.
"Yeah, it's going to be defoliated. It's going to take a hit, but it's going to be fine," said Likins.
As the insects grow, Likins said you will see more damage.
"We thought about spraying but it's a huge expense," said Robbins.
Likins said at this point spraying would be ineffective.
"For one thing, most homeowners don't have the material, they don't have the equipment and usually when they get the insect at this level it's too large," said Likins.
Here's one of the caterpillars as it rappels down in search for more food but Likins said don't panic birds will help take care of the nuisance as nature takes its course.
"This is wonderful bird food, and so the birds are enjoying a feast," said Likins.
If you'd like a certified arborist to come out and take a look at your trees, just call the Chesterfield Extension office at 751-4401. A list is also on the county web site.
Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.
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