CLOSED: Pests or baby butterflies?

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Found 100's of these in an oak tree. They are leaving only skeletonized leaves in their wake. Can you identify them? Should I kill them?

Thanks
Sheryl

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

worms and damage

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

close up

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

damage. this is what they are doing to the foliage. it's a big tree and can withstand some defoliation (if they are good guys).

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Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I don't know what they are but they are disgusting and I would get rid of them!

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 9b)

I'm not an entymologist (more like an etymologist!), but I can't imagine any good butterfly's caterpillars swarming like that! Even the hummingbird-moth's hornworm cat, while it goes an excellent job defoliating a tomato plant, does so pretty much alone!

Your MASS of chewing flesh makes me think of web-worms without the web! If you don't get a positive ID here, today, I would take the pics to your local Cooperative Extension office -- they will know and will have advice for control/eradication.

~'spin!~

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Zarcanat wins the prize! LOL Why not take your hose and on high pressure dislodge the lil buggers?

Joseph

Modesto, CA(Zone 8b)

Ah Joseph, you're such a gentle soul. I'm thinking more like BT bombs or a flame thrower! LOL

K

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

You could always fresh collect them, sautee them in butter for a tasty side dish (NOT). Ewwwwwwwww

Mansfield, TX(Zone 8a)

Nasty varmints. Anything remotely related to a wasp - HORNET SPRAY.

Modesto, CA(Zone 8b)

I say let's go fishing!!!!

Tulsa, OK(Zone 7a)

are they bag worms..?? sure lots them all together ik... might be good fishing bait..

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Nope, they are sawflies, which refers to the adults not the caterpillars.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

I take a butane torch to 'em...frys them right up.

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 9b)

When I dine at Melody's, I pass on the crispy hors d'oeuvres...

~'spin!~

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Aww come on, dust them with a little powdered sugar and you'll never know the difference......NOT! (Mel won't serve them....I promise)

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

ikkk!!!

Well, thanks very much, zarcanat, for the Id and link. And thanks, Joseph, for "second-ing" the "nomination." Thanks to ALL for the myriad laughs I got while reading the many "suggestions". Oh, and, crystalspin, good idea about co-op ext. Sadly, I had already dined before I read Joseph's recipe.

Now, here is my problem. I'm trying to live in HARMONY with nature. I'm trying to minimize my use of harmful chemicals. According to the link, drowning them is recommended, and that seems to work with the whole "harmony" thing, EXCEPT the link also mentions that they are going to SPIT on me when disturbed. That is totally disgusting!!! I'm not getting close enough to be spit on!

AND, if that's not enough, the temp here (w/heat index) is running between 109F and 120F. I have vowed not to return to the yard until late October at which time I am hoping the temp will be DOWN TO the mere 90sF. (whining, I know)

However, the link also mentioned that many of them would die of bacterial infection in warm, wet climate. Well, it's definitely WARM here, and with 95% humidity, the air is wet, so maybe they will DIE!

I'm starting to like the "hose them down" idea. I could hose them down with Neem. Do you think that would kill them?

I was SO hoping for 100's of butterflies!

Sheryl

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

I think there are a few cultures where they might make a tasty meal. I'm just not that hungry, guys. ...trying to cut back on my insect calories.

According to the link even most birds won't eat them - apparently that spitting thing is a turn-off even for the birds!

Montreal, QC(Zone 4b)

You could make money with a spitting contest, which will be the greener, the farther, the slimier... anything-er!

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Better pass out some dental floss, the chitin sticks between the teeth. LOL!

Shrimp, lobster, crayfish, all are relatives of insects. No one goes EWWWW when they former are served up.

Modesto, CA(Zone 8b)

Well, I guess Napalm is out then, certainly isn't a harmonious product. BT is though, you can apply the dust with an old-fashoined duster. It should take them right out, and the nice thing is that they dry up!

and Joseph......triple eeeewww!

K

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Well, ACTUALLY I haven't been able to do crayfish. I was completely grossed out the 1st time I saw a shrimp in its "pre-dinnerplate" form! And while I LOVE lobster, when I ordered a "live Maine lobster" and the waiter plopped down a plate with a complete crustacean including huge antennae, I felt nauseus. Turns out, I only like seafood, after someone else has removed all of the ikky stuff!

K, I like the BT idea.

Now, does anyone know what the spitting RANGE is for the little guys? I need to make sure I stay OUTSIDE that area at all times.


Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Oh, and about that harmony with nature thing, it just might be overrated. Yesterday the AC guy commented that he had never quite seen so MANY of those huge garden orb spiders in one area!

Santa Ana, CA(Zone 9b)

Will BT work on not-really-caterpillar larvae? Does anyone know?

Also remember, it is not selective and will knock out the pretty butterflies' cats along with the cutworms and cabbageworms... Not that I don't use it, but I do apply it selectively to just those plants being decimated by over-enthusiastic or over-populated "worms" of specific kind.

Does hornet spray work on larval forms?

And finally, I think the Aussie site linked above mentioned the parasitic mini-wasps working on these pests -- has anybody ever imported them (from where?) and successfully used them? and against what?

~'spin!~

Chico, CA

Sneak up on them and put a plastice bag around the whole mass and tie it off....but do it fast!!!!!!

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Emtnest, I love the sneaky "plastic bag" idea. lol But, I don't know how fast they spit and ...bleh.

However, the problem may already be solved. Maybe nature's harmony is working for me afterall. Today there are only a handful left. At first I thought maybe they did whatever they do and then flew away - well, I don't know how long this takes. But THEN, I noticed a bunch of those giant garden orb spiders doing a "high-wire" act overhead. They had stretched webs way up overhead from the catapillars branch all the way over to another tree. All of the spider's webs terminate on the catapillar's branches. I've read before that spiders will eat pretty much anything that is small enough (including each other). I think the spider's may be eating the catapillars. Is that possible? At any rate, there are only a maybe 2 dozen catapillars left, this despite the fact that there are lots more leaves left to eat.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Oh, and, spin, I'm glad you mentioned that the BT might be harmful to the butterflies. I have lots of butterflies, different types. You can litterally see one or more in pretty much any part of the garden, any time of day (even though they, too, fall victim to the spiders sometimes). They are such a joy to watch. I would not want to harm them.

Sheryl

Memphis, TN(Zone 7b)

Pine Sawflies - and they'll eat the entire plant if you don't kill them! BAD BAD!

Modesto, CA(Zone 8b)

Try the BT, inquiring minds want to know if it will work on Sawfly larvae!

Richmond, TX(Zone 9a)

Oh, so that's what those nasties are called. I spray sevin or neem, whichever is closest t me and they're gone within 1 hr. i see them every now and then, but they sure do a job on a "victim" in no time at all

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Here are some verbs about sawflies and effectiveness (NOT) of BT for controlling the larvae (BT is good against Lepidoptera but not Hymenoptera) and cultural control of the critters:

General Sawfly Life Cycle
Female sawfly wasps have a saw blade-like plate to make a slit in pine needles. Their eggs are then inserted in the small openings. Upon egg hatch, the small larvae being to feed. Individual species are active at different times of the year and some have more than 1 generation.

Sawfly larvae resemble the caterpillars of moths and butterflies with a visible difference. While butterfly and moth caterpillars have 2 to 5 pairs of fleshy prolegs on the abdomen; sawflies have more than 5 pairs. This distinction can be important with regard to selecting control measures. The biological insecticide (Bt or Bacillus thuringiensis) that works well against butterfly and moth caterpillars is not effective against sawflies.

Mature larvae spin a cocoon that turns brown and resembles a bud tip. The adult will emerge from the pupal case and start the life cycle again.



Sawfly Control
Sawfly populations are usually controlled by combinations of natural enemies, predators, starvation, disease, or unfavorable weather. Outbreaks can occur when natural control does not produce high mortality. Regular inspection of pines will help to detect sawfly infestations before the larvae reach a size that can cause significant defoliation. Since eggs are laid in clusters, feeding by groups of larvae can cause unsightly damage to ornamental or landscape plantings as well as tree nurseries.

If only a small number of colonies are present and accessible, they can be handpicked, shaken off, or pruned from the tree and destroyed.

Modesto, CA(Zone 8b)

Fascinating! Thanks Joseph! Now I know, and knowing is half the battle. (GI Joe)

K :~D

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

Thanks, K, I am happy the web article advocated a little bit my comment about cultural controls (I prefer to blast them with a fast moving stream of water).

They must not be very palatable, you would think they would be a smorgasbord for birds, easy prey all clustered like that.

Modesto, CA(Zone 8b)

True, the recycled Eucalyptus/Pine immitation of the Exocist "pea soup" thing must be a real turn off for the birds. I wonder if their little heads spin around and freak out the birds. Ha.

Wilmington, DE(Zone 7a)

(hysterical laughing overtook Gerris2 on reading K's last post) I am sure they are as good a shot as the poor possessed girl in that film.

Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Sorry, haven't done anything yet because (1) don't have BT on hand, (2) they seem to be contained (3) this is not my tree, (4) torrential rains due to hurricane.

From all indications they are planning to stay put (not spread to my ornamentals). Tree belongs to SC Dept Wildlife. Branches intruding on my property and need to be removed. BTW, tree is definitely not pine. Appears to be oak.

Since vossner reports success w/neem (which I have on hand), will try that tomorrow and report back.

Here is latest pic.morphing...

Thumbnail by DreamOfSpring
Charleston, SC(Zone 9a)

Ok, way cool. Check this out!!! "my" spiders DO eat pine sawflies!!!

http://www.fcps.k12.va.us/StratfordLandingES/Ecology/mpages/black_and_yellow_argiope.htm. (Scroll down for list of prey)

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