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Spring 2011

May 23rd, 2011

Late May Observation: Eastern Tent caterpillars have begun appearing in trees, along with their familiar communal tents. The young caterpillars feed on the buds, and the nests become apparent this time of year. As the larvae grow they begin to feed on leaves. When the population increases, it is not uncommon for trees and forests to be defoliated. The caterpillars mature in the first part of June, with adult moths appearing during the last part of the month, when egg-laying takes place. There is one generation per year.

The beginning of the spring brought large numbers of low-flying, solitary ground-nesting bees over many Maine lawns and flower beds.  These beneficial insects are good pollinators that are helping to fill the honey bee gap.  They are not particularly aggressive and their numbers will lessen as spring turns into summer.

Most of the white grubs that have been coming into our lab this spring from the Brewer, Old Town, Orono, and the Bangor area are European chafer grubs.  This species of white grub starts feeding earlier in the spring, feeds more aggressively, and feeds later into the fall, than the other species in the area.  The European chafer grubs have been quite plentiful in this area for the last three years.  Those desiring an organic approach for the management of the next generation of white grubs, may consider using beneficial nematodes, best applied during the last three weeks of August.  Preventive measures targeting the next generation of grubs, using conventional materials, would generally work best when applied in June and July.  Before using pesticides on your lawn, one should be knowledgeable about soil type and ground water protection and surface runoff patterns which may affect lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.

Once the weather warms and dries up we should have good numbers of black flies, especially near streams and rivers.  It should be noted that black fly populations are not always evenly distributed, but can be in localized dense swarms.   Personal protective tactics, such as limiting exposed skin and the use of repellents, are suggested for those involved in outdoor activities in high black fly areas.

We have had a number of deer ticks brought into the lab starting in April.  Please be sure to do tick checks after hiking, gardening, walking the dog, and other outdoor activities that may take you into the forest or brushy areas.

a deer tick (non-engorged) next to a US penny for scale purposes photo of a deer tick next to a dog tick (both are unfed or non-engorged, and both are beside a US penny for relative size comparisons) engorged Deer Tick (LEFT) beside an engorged Dog Tick (RIGHT) for easy comparison (the dog tick is significantly larger)

Clay Kirby
Insect Diagnostician

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