Role of larval mortality in dynamics of forest tent caterpillar outbreaks
Forest tent caterpillars causes serious damage to hardwood forests across Canada, and outbreaks are currently on the rise in several provinces.
Recent research by our team and others suggests that while parasites and disease play a key role in ending outbreaks, predators attacking young caterpillars could be important in preventing the start of outbreaks.
This project measures predation on young caterpillars in outbreaking and non-outbreaking forests and identifies the predators responsible. Forest tent caterpillars emerge early in the spring with host trees budbreak, when temperatures are still low and very few predators are active. In particular, we test whether ants could help control forest tent caterpillar populations.
These results will help predict the growth of forest tent caterpillar populations in different forest types and identify those most vulnerable to outbreaks. This information will be used by forest managers in decision-making about FTC control.