October 16, 2013

Weird Insects - Part 3 - Defilers

In Part 1 and Part 2, we looked at insects that are shelter or protect themselves in unusual ways or in galls to hide themselves during development.  In this part, we'll look at a couple of insects that "defile" and/or create misshapen growth in plants.

Some insects create nasty web homes for them to feed and develop within.  They produce silk webbing and tie together leaves and branches to varying degrees, depending on the species.  They go through developmental stages, eat, poop, etc. creating a big pile of grossness.  I would guess that the mess protects them, for the most part, from predators and the environment.  The two examples that I’ve come across are the Ugly Nest Caterpillar (aptly named, I’d say) and another insect on Pine, which I haven’t sorted out yet.  It is equally gross, as it is tough to say what exactly all the stuff you are seeing is.  I’d lean towards poop.  Poop tends to end up nearby, no matter which insect you are dealing with.  Overall, these “defilers” can mess up the shape and form of the tree, as they tend to stick to the new growth of the tree.

Ugly Nest Caterpillar (Archips cerasivorana)

Large number of nests are visible from a distance in a chokecherry shelterbelt

Multiple nests apparent on a single chokecherry bush

Nest of Ugly Nest Caterpillar - masses of webbing ties together branches and leaves to create a place for hundreds of larvae to develop

Big nest of Ugly Nest Caterpillar
Ugly Nest Caterpillar nest - pupal casings, frass (poop) and other debris are visible within the mass

Ugly Nest Caterpillar adult moth
Some sort of nest-creating insect in Pine

Somewhat conspicuous, reddish-brown nest/mass on a Pine tree - it appeared to be approximately 6-12 inches in length

Numerous messy reddish-brown nests can be seen on this large Pine

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