Tent Caterpillars Invade Parts Of Minnesota

By KBJR News 1

May 23, 2012 Updated May 23, 2012 at 8:49 PM CST

Tent caterpillars are invading parts of Minnesota. Often called army worms, these caterpillars can really wreak havoc with forests.

But as LeAnn Wallace reports the Northland is not expected to be hit as hard as it has in some years.

"They are everywhere."

For folks venturing outdoors in parts of the Twin Cities, the tent worm is almost unavoidable.

"They're pretty gross. They're smooshed all over the place on the sidewalk."

This is a look at the bothersome critters along Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.

Department of Natural Resouces entomologist Val Cervenka says her staff is getting several phone calls a day from people seeing more caterpillars in parts of the the Twin Cities this year.

"It could be driven by weather. Fewer caterpillars and insects die when the weather warms over the winter," said Val Cervenka.

DNR officials in Grand Rapids have gotten a few phone calls too.

"I've gotten some reports in Carlton County where they're about half to 3/4 of an inch long near Grand Rapids, and also east of Milacs Lake there's some defoliation showing up," said Mike Albers.

The last time Minnesota saw a huge outbreak of the tent worm, was in 2002 when seven and a half million acres of trees were reported defoliated.

But while the caterpillars have come on strong in the Twin Cities this spring, the Northland is looking to fair a bit better.

"I'm not expecting a large outbreak of forest caterpillars up here this year, but there will be some scattered spots of defoliation," said Albers.

DNR officials say the caterpillars are a normal part of the ecosystem here in Northeastern Minnesota, and while they may have negative impacts on trees, it's usually temporary and the trees spring back.