Happenings on the Parade Ground
Look around the Parade Ground and the Fishers Island
Conservancy's Demonstration Garden next to the Movie Theater
and you will see many nests of tent caterpillars in the cherry
trees. The caterpillars and their tents get bigger and bigger
and there are fewer and fewer leaves on the cherry trees. Should
we be concerned and rush out to eliminate these pests? No! Sit
back and let the birds do the work.
This came in from the Conservancy's naturalist, Adam Mitchell:
"I wouldn't be concerned about the Eastern Tent Caterpillar.
These are native species that are feeding on native plants
(mostly cherry when I was on the island last week). These
caterpillars, in turn, will provide food for breeding birds
like orioles in the parade grounds and help support
whip-poor-wills when they turn into moths. Tent caterpillars
can defoliate young trees, especially ornamentals, but native
trees will recover within a month (just part of the natural
As Tom Sargent pointed out, Baltimore Orioles eat them, as do
Blue Jays, Chickadees and Nuthatches. The orioles have a unique
way to consume the tent caterpillars - they skin them! This helps
get through the all the hair the caterpillars have. The adult
caterpillars, however, are actively consumed by many birds and
bats, so they are a welcome addition to the island.
Article and Photos Provided by JT Ahrens.