Posted by Edwin Bowe on October 18, 2021 at 8:51 am
Location: Nicholasville, KY
In 2001 there was a severe infestation of eastern tent caterpillars (ETCs) in central Kentucky. (Over a third of a garage door would be literally covered with ETCs in the morning and, despite killing them all, there would be just as many of them in the evening.). At the same time approximately 30% of the mares in central Kentucky experienced spontaneous abortion, termed mare reproductive loss syndrome (MRLS), which was estimated to result in losses of $500 million. Eventually MRLS was attributed to ETCs, for which leaves of wild cherries are one of their favorite foods. Baltimore orioles are not commonly seen on our property, but in the spring of that year they were commonly seen eating ETCs. (It’s the only time I was able to photograph a Baltimore oriole on our farm.) This image shows a Baltimore oriole on the branch of a wild cherry tree (note the small fruit by the head of the bird).