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Options for dealing with summer, autumn pests

Eastern tent caterpillars are hatching and building their web nests. The caterpillars are typically found on wild black cherry trees, but they enjoy feeding on crab apple and a few other species as well. Although eastern tent caterpillar is native to North America, they can cause significant defoliation on native trees.

Recommended control options include crushing or pulling the webs out of the trees. Crushing entails putting on gloves and squishing the web nest and all caterpillars that you see. Those who don't want to get that close can use a rake and a bucket filled with soapy water. Pull the web nest out of the tree with the rake, then drop the nests and caterpillars in the bucket of soapy water, which will drown the caterpillars.

People can also use an appropriate insecticide to control the caterpillars (check labels), but webs can be somewhat water resistant and hard for insecticides to penetrate.

Pruning or clipping out affected branches or burning the webs out of the trees is not recommended. Pruning out an affected branch does more damage to a tree than the caterpillars themselves. Although the caterpillars will certainly eat the leaves off a tree, the tree will usually send out a second set of leaves to compensate. If you prune off a branch, the tree won't just grow that branch back. Burning webs or branches could start a wildfire.

Tick app

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is seeking information about local tick encounters through a new "Tick App," a phone application that is part research tool and part educational tool.

Through the app, people can enroll in a study to determine their risk for tick encounters and assess the success or failure of prevention strategies. After going through a five-minute sign-up process, people with the app can complete daily tick diaries and report a tick. They can even send in an image for identification after the report is completed. For information, visit or

Ladybug blues

Ladybugs that congregated in or on homes this fall are emerging in the Northland. How can homeowners deal with them?

One option is to vacuum them up daily, making sure to empty the vacuum bag daily to prevent the smell of dead ladybugs from permeating the vacuum. People can also gather up ladybugs and place them into a container filled with soapy water to kill them. Both methods should be done daily until the ladybugs are gone.

A bug bomb insecticide will only kill ladybugs that have already emerged, not the ones waiting in the walls.

To prevent future infestations, residents need to prevent ladybugs from congregating or entering homes in the fall. People can build them out of the house by sealing holes and cracks or spray pesticides at the right time.

Ladybugs start looking for a spot to overwinter right after there is a good frost followed by warm sunny days. That's when to strike. Typically, a house should be sprayed by the first week of October. If fall runs long, the pesticide may have to be reapplied.