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Butterfly & moth caterpillar nests. Which do I need to worry abou

viche
12 years ago

I've been seeing caterpillar nests at the ends of branches on 3 sweetgum trees and an apple tree in my yard. The trees are about 20 years old. At first I figured they were a bad thing. They were stripping leaves from the ends of the branches. So I cut off the section of branch and disposed of them.

Then my kids ordered a butterfly raising kit and I realize how incredibly similar those caterpillars activity and appearance were. On one hand I'm raising butterflies which I'll probably release into my yard, and on the other, I'm pruning trees to kill the natural caterpillars.

Questions:

1. How can you tell a truly tree damaging caterpillar from a friendly type or are they all bad? I really don't know the types. I remember full out attacks on Gypsy Moths when I was a kid, but I'm clueless now.

2. Is there a better way of disposing of the bad caterpillar nests then having to cut off the branch? Can I just leave the nest there with some breeds?

3. What's wrong with sacrificing the end of a branch for a bunch of pretty butterflies?

4. Should I not be releasing the Painted Lady butterflies we are raising into my yard?

Thanks guys.

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