Reader warns of caterpillar trap impact on birds | community - petsitterbank

Reader warns of caterpillar trap impact on birds | community

An alert reader of this newspaper wrote that a suggestion in a recent article about spongy moth caterpillars could endanger birds.

The original article suggests wrapping the trunk of a tree with duct tape, sticky side out. The tape will capture the caterpillars, which can defoliate a tree before the caterpillars turn into moths.

A similar method, called sticky bands, is also used to capture the spotted lanternfly, another invasive species that targets fruit and other hardwood trees.

However, Kent Knisley, the reader, said that duct tape can inadvertently capture birds, which will be unable to escape and slowly starve to death.

Instead, Knisley suggested creating a protective “cage” around tape. The caterpillars will be able to walk through the cage and get stuck on the tape, but the birds will be kept out.

Hardware cloth, like that pictured to the right, can work but some small birds and beneficial insects may still get trapped.

A wildlife barrier can also be created using flexible window screening and push pins. Here are the instructions:

  • Cut a strip of window screening that is at about one-and-a-half times the diameter of the tree and about three times as wide as the sticky trap.
  • Attach the screening window to the tree above the sticky band with push pins, pleading it as you attach it so that it stands out from the tree and does not stick to the band.
  • Place the sticky band tightly against the tree, so that wildlife cannot get caught underneath it.
  • Making the sticky band narrow, about 5 inches or less, will reduce the chances of catching wildlife other than the intended species.
  • Check the sticky band every day.

Should a bird or small mammal get caught in the sticky bands, the tree owner should not remove it from the tape. Instead, cover the exposed sticky material with plastic wrap or tissue paper and remove the entire band from the tree. Contact a wildlife rehabilitation center to free and treat the animal.

This newspaper thanks Knisley for his suggestion. If you have a suggestion for this newspaper, write to news@tiogapublishing.com or call 570-724-2287 ext. 2.

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