Thursday, May 27, 2010

Volunteers and Caterpillars at Riverside Park

The first FMR volunteer event at Riverside Park in Minneapolis was held on May 15, 2010. About 40 volunteers, many from the neighborhood, came together to remove invasive species like garlic mustard and buckthorn from key areas of the park. After all the time and energy invested by neighbors and partners to get the restoration of this park underway, it was very
exciting to finally get our hands dirty! To see more photos from the event, check out FMR's Flickr page.

Another event will be held at the park in the fall. Watch FMR's events calendar for details.

Throughout the event, forest tent caterpillars were raining down on the volunteers from the trees above. They were all over everyone's clothes and in their hair, covering equipment like the blue bucket in the photo, everywhere! If you've been back to the park since the event, you've probably noticed that the caterpillars wreaked some serious havoc, leaving some trees almost completely defoliated. This may look shocking and disturbing, but these trees should put out a second smaller set of leaves later in the summer and recover.

Tent caterpillars are native to Minnesota and have a natural boom and bust cycle - outbreaks occur at intervals of 5-10 years and each outbreak can last for 5-8 years. You'll notice defoliation starting in late May and lasting through late June, till the caterpillars have spun themselves into cocoons and pupated. Tent caterpillars have a whole slew of natural controls that keep them in check, including diseases and native predators (insects, spiders, birds, etc.) that evolved along with them.

For more information on forest tent caterpillars, check out this page from the DNR.

Photos courtesy of Karen Solas and Carolyn Carr.

1 comment:

MJ said...

Ugh on the tent caterpillars. I remember when we had some nests in a tree at my mom's house and got rid of them by dumping them into a bucket of water that had some oil in it.