What’s Eating all the Leaves off New York Trees?
So this morning as I was heading to my car to go to work when I noticed a tiny caterpillar on the pavement. It was tiny so without bending over, I really couldn't get a good look at it, but I remember thinking "you are not as cute as your 'Wooly Bear' Cousins". Then later today scrolling through social media, I came across a post from The New York State Department of Environmental Conservations that was all about the caterpillar I had seen.
Apparently, I have at least one Spongy Moth Caterpillar at my house. I am thinking there are probably plenty more after reading what the NYS DEC had to say about them. Unfortunately, I got home after dark tonight so I can't really tell if it has friends. And with the rain the next few days, I may not be able to detect just how many I have on the trees around my house.
Why are there Caterpillars on Your Trees in New York?
It's not so much I want to see a lot of caterpillars. They actually really creep me out. I can hold a wooly bear but that is because they roll up in a ball. The idea of a multi-legged creature crawling around in my hand is not something I want to experience anytime soon.
Why Try To Find Spongy Moth Caterpillars in Your Trees?
The reason I am hoping I can locate them is that I want to see if I have the nature virus or fungus that would kill them before they eat all the leaves off my big oak tee. Apparently, Oak is their favorite tree to snack on according to the NYS DEC. The DEC also says that they are not native to our area. They originated in France but now live here and have "naturized" themselves to New York Forests.
The NYS DEC also said that if they eat the leaves there is a good chance your trees won't be harmed because they should grow new leaves after the caterpillars move on. The NYS DEC has a page dedicated to the Spongy Moth Caterpillar if you want to read more. The page also tells you how to help your tree if it gets eaten.