October 28, 2019 /
Jona Elwell

Creepy Crawlies

Halloween is almost here! We’re celebrating by learning more about zombie trees and the various creepy crawlers that haunt trees (and nursery managers). 

We even have some real life examples from our farm! Up first? Caterpillars!

These guys are under a spell – of sugar! In line with our integrated pest management system of sustainable, organic farming we don’t use insecticides to get rid of these beasts. Instead, Nursery Manager Todd developed a devious plan. He sprays almost two pounds of sugar per acre of farmland. Why? The caterpillars cannot process the complete proteins of the plant from the high brix levels. 

They have a tendency to will crawl back together and will defensively make a ball of themselves. Without eating again, they eventually starve to death and you get some lovely dried up caterpillar colonies throughout trees. Just one of the many joys of integrated pest management!


The other creepy crawly that’s been seen around the farm and isn’t necessarily a bad thing? Praying mantises! While they can eat good insects, like bees, the fact that we can spot 2-3 egg cases on Golden Raintrees is a good sign – it means our sustainable horticulture works to save beneficial insects. Thanks to these efforts by our farm crew, we have not seen damage to our over 20,000 trees.

And who could forget the beetle scourge this past summer? We’re glad they creepy crawled out of our life. We’d be remiss to mention creepy crawly tree pests without mentioning the two that are rapidly spreading, and rapidly decimating, tree populations throughout the Northeast *and* North America: the Emerald Ash Borer and the Spotted Lanternfly. Keep an eye out for these and if you see one contact your local extension arborists.