The campgrounds are full and all the while Zion National Park is experiencing a huge outbreak of Southwestern Tent Caterpillars and the campers aren’t happy! The little critters are covering everything, tents, site posts, tables…anything below the trees. Although they’re normal and a natural part of the ecosystem here, they’ve reach an exceptionally high population this year. Over the last several years there have been very few hard freeze or freezing rain events and freezing is the main control over these caterpillars. Entire trees are encased in the caterpillar silk and most the leaves are eaten away. Hopefully the foliage will re-grow in time to shade campers during the hot summer days ahead. Fortunately, the caterpillars are only a nuisance for a couple of weeks then they subside leaving the trees looking bare until they can grow a new set of leaves. This has got to be a drain on the life of a tree over several cycles of this. Hopefully, there will be a deep freeze next winter.
Some of the bands put on the trees earlier this spring to prevent the caterpillars from climbing the trees worked, most didn’t. This band did not work and the caterpillars found their way under and over the band.