Tent caterpillar infestation makes it tough to find insecticide

By Kevin Martel
June 7, 2016 - 7:00pm

There's an infestation in Saskatchewan.

At a glance they might look like fuzzy blankets draped around trees and buildings. In reality, they're clumps of tent caterpillars. They're surfacing in large numbers around the province, and that's forcing people to find a way to get rid of them.

One of the most common ways is to use the organic pesticide BTK. But finding it may prove to be a challenge.

Luckily for Leanne Mejia, she found it at Dutch Growers in Regina, explaining she rushed over from work as quickly as she could when she learned the business had it.

She has a problem with the caterpillars around her cabin at Good Spirit Lake.

"They are ravaging the area. They're on the fences, they're on the house, they're on the deck, they're on the bird feeders. They're everywhere," she described, adding her trees are bare.

"It just looks like something between a fire, between fall where the leaves have already fallen but that's not the case."

Her apple trees are being devoured and she's attempting to save them. Mejia said she looked at a few larger chain stores for BTK but couldn't find any. She even contacted a friend in Moose Jaw to see if that city had it anywhere but had no luck.

"It goes very, very quickly," explained Tim Van Duyvendyk, owner of Dutch Growers.

Each order vanishes nearly as fast as it's stocked. The product disappears by the dozens each day. Van Duyvendyk said the store had to have their last order specially flown in.

BTK works when you spray the bacteria onto leaves, he said, which the caterpillars then eat. It attacks and destroys their stomachs, forcing starvation and subsequent death.

Mejia swears she can hear the caterpillars when she's walking by them if she listens closely enough.

Other people claim it looks like the walls of buildings are moving when large clusters form.

Van Duyvendyk has been hearing all kinds of other stories from his customers as well.

"There's times where you'll see the road covered with caterpillars and vehicles have to go slow otherwise it'd be like ice."

Van Duyvendyk said they are planning on getting more BTK in shortly, but advises people to call ahead first.

kmartel@cjme.com
On Twitter: @KevinMartel

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