Friday, May 23, 2008


An annual event in Winnipeg is about to unfold... and no one is looking forward to it!

Each spring, shortly after the leaves open up on the trees, the cankerworms emerge and proceed to munch their way through the foliage, leaving many trees, especially the much loved elm trees, partially or completely devoid of leaves.

There are two types of worms, I learned today: the spring variety and the fall variety. Both are in the larval form in the spring, consuming the leaves on the trees, even dining side by side on the same leaf. The difference is that one pupates into the moth form in the fall and one in the spring. But both do tons of damage to the trees.

Most of the trees survive this onslaught, which typically only lasts for a week or two, by growing a new batch of leaves after the worms are done feasting and move along in their life cycle. Repeated defoliation over numerous years, however, can weaken and even kill a tree.

The real kicker with these little guys is that they like to hang from the trees on silken threads and stick to your hair, your clothes, cars, the dog, and coat the sidewalks with slimy little bodies that get squished from people stepping on them.

Try sitting outside on a patio, having a cup of coffee or a drink, and have one of these little buggers plop into your drink! Eeeeewwwww!

A lot of times you don't even know you have a few freeloaders until someone points them out, or they decide to drop off your head at the most inopportune times - like just when you are lifting that forkful of pasta to your mouth and presto! a little added protein appears. Makes you want to carry an umbrella whenever you walk down the sidewalk to avoid the creepy crawlers wandering about in your locks.

According to the city entomologists, this year should be the peak of a seven to nine year cycle these things have, so I am sure it will be a doozie! Not too many mosquitoes so far, but soon to have an abundance of squiggly things falling from the skies.

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