hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

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hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sat Sep 22, 2012 5:53 pm

I'm in need of advice for my hackberry. The tree was 70% defoliated while I was away for a period of time recently by caterpillars. It's in robust health otherwise. I rid the tree of them when I returned, but now it's starting to push new leaves.

My problem is that we will probably get a frost this weekend, and the question is, do I put it in the greenhouse to keep the leaves going, or do I leave it out and not worry about the new growth? This tree does live in the cold greenhouse all winter, to keep the small twig dieback to a minimum, I also have heat options in there for shoulder season growth, to extend the growing season for some trees. Would this be a good case to use that extension option?

Thanks!

JudyB
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JimLewis on Sat Sep 22, 2012 6:01 pm

If you keep the tree under a roof overhang, or under a larger tree, a light frost should not hurt it. It is freezing temperatures for a sizable period of time that do the damage. Later on, once nighttime temperatures do dip below freezing, the greenhouse will be a necessity.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:10 pm

Thanks Jim,
under the porch roof for the weekend...


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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  coh on Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:17 pm

Bad caterpillars! Razz

Seems prudent to give some protection from frost/freeze as the new growth develops. Please keep us posted, and let us know how the tree does over the winter and next spring. I don't think any of my potted deciduous trees are actively growing at this point, but a number of my in-ground "pre-bonsai" are still growing quite vigorously...including English oak, Chinese quince, Prunus mume, and a Japanese Maple of unknown variety.

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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  Poink88 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:28 pm

Having summer behind us (my turn to gloat Twisted Evil )...it is nice that we are still in mid-60's for lows and low-90's for highs here in TX. We probably have a month or two left before we see some frost. cheers

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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sat Sep 22, 2012 7:37 pm

Chris,
these were the smallest caterpillars I've ever seen. I could barely see them with my naked eye. tiny and lime green, and only on the hackberry. Lots of them... So many I couldn't hand pick, and be sure I got them all cause they were so small. I'll have to see if I can ID them. I hate to spray, but wonder if there is some sort of preventative, would mothballs or something similar work? I do seem to go away just at caterpillar peak time. Course I don't like mothballs either....
I'm sure it'll be fine, I'll just get it in sooner this year. Let it take an almost freeze or so, then inside the coldhouse. It will freeze in there eventually, but only just.

@Dario, we are still in the 60's by day... neener neener... Razz and even low 90's is toooo hot for me...

JudyB
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  Khaimraj Seepersad on Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:06 am

JudyB,

would have been really helpful to see your hackberrys. My own will slow down around Novemeber/December, as they originally came from Lafayette, Louisiana and be "refrigeratored" around the end of January until April 1st.
I enjoy seeing efforts with hackberrys, though for some strange reason, very few in the US seem to grow them?
Later.
Khaimraj

* Also like Celtis - chinensis, africana and there is one from Europe, even Puerto Rico [ trinervia spelling?]
Which is why I like the Fustic, very celtis like.

Khaimraj Seepersad
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:52 pm

Hi Khaimraj,
I'm still learning posting photos here, for some reason it's hard to copy them to the post. I'll try again. This is a spring shot, more carving work has been done this summer, I'll try to get a current shot and update. But it looks sad right now because of the pillar feast... This is a work in progress for sure...
But I have high hopes for it.

I think that there is the impression that these suffer large scale winter dieback, but I've found it's not that bad. It's small twigs that get replaced the next season easily. But I keep mine in a cold greenhouse here in the winter...

JudyB
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:55 pm

Well I got three to go, then it gave me a error that my spellchecker needed updated, and redirected me to downloads of some product.

So here are a few more... maybe...

JudyB
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JimLewis on Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:19 pm

Nifty tree, Judy. It'll be super in a few years.

You might want to ask your local extension office what those tiny green worms might have been. Then, for this time next year, get a pesticide containing BT (Bacillus thuringiensis ) and keep it handy.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:40 pm

So is BT something that can prevent this, or is it a remedy? So far the only thing I've seen that is close is the Angel Shades moth caterpillar, but they seem larger. Maybe these were just very young (and hungry.)

Here are a couple shots from now. As far as the carving, I know that it's obvious at this point, but I like to carve, then let the weather create for a year, then clean it up, let the weather at it.... etc... since this tree is a number of years away from any type of final image, I'm in no hurry. The left hand branching will get sorted next year, something's got to go...

Suggestions btw are welcome.


JudyB
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  coh on Sun Sep 23, 2012 3:42 pm

Wow, that tree has great potential! About how large is it (either height or trunk width)?

coh
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JimLewis on Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:11 pm

BT is a bacterium that attacks caterpillars (other strains attack mosquitoes, so read the label -- though I suspect it is sold in a mixture these days). It is not a preventative, though if your timing was right it would kill them as they arrived. I do not know how long it would stay active if placed in and around a tree some time in advance of the critters' expected arrival. Perhaps the extension office can tell you.

The great advantage to BT is that it does not harm other critters, people or pets. The disadvantage, of course, is the specialized target.

_________________
Jim Lewis - lewisjk@windstream.net - Western NC - People, when Columbus discovered this country, it was plumb full of nuts and berries. And I'm right here to tell you the berries are just about all gone. Uncle Dave Macon, old-time country musician

JimLewis
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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

Post  JudyB on Sun Sep 23, 2012 4:45 pm

Then it should work well for me, as I have few pests otherwise. I don't usually have to spray at all, the occasional cotton scale gets insecticidal soap, but recently the assassin bugs are taking up most of my battles.
Thanks!

@coh, it's going to be a good one... just going to take some time. Still have roots to work on as well as carving and branch re-arranging. It's 14" nebari 7" trunk above roots, 24"tall. Thanks for the nice words.

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Re: hackberry defoliation via caterpillar

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