Texas AgriLife Extension Research and the Erath County Extension Office will offer a field day on “Converting Bermuda Pastures to Diverse Native Grasslands” on May 2.

Registration will start at 9:30 at the Texas A&M Agrilife & Extension Center (1229 North US 281 Stephenville). Two CEU will be given for pesticide license. Program will end at 3 p.m.

Program topics and speakers will include Quail Habitat, Wildlife tax Exemptions, Converting Bermudagrass to native grassland, Herbicides effective against Bermudagrass, Field Plot visit.

Please RSVP by April 29 at 254-965-1460 or erath-tx@tamu.edu.

The walnut caterpillar

There have recently been several reports received from two different counties on what is believed to be a walnut caterpillar infestation. Walnut caterpillars are a serious threat to pecan, hickory, and walnut trees. They can also be harmful to oak, willow, honey locust, and some woody shrubs. They develop quickly in large clusters and can rapidly defoliate (remove leaves from) trees and shrubs. The best way to control walnut caterpillars is to spray them with insecticides while they are still young.

The adult is a moth with a two-inch wing span. It is brown and tan with a dark region on the body behind the head and has wavy, dark lines across the front wings. Females will lay about 300 eggs on the underside of a leaf on a host tree. Adult moth caterpillars hatch from eggs in about 9 days and live together in groups. They are reddish brown to black with white markings and long white hairs. Large larvae are fuzzy and can grow up to two inches long. Young larvae feed on soft tissues of the leaves, leaving only a skeleton behind. Older larvae feed on the entire leaf. Isolated trees are more likely to get attacked by these vicious insects than forest or orchard trees.

For larger trees and shrubs, spraying insecticides is the most practical method of control. Try finding the eggs or larvae when they are young and spray before any extensive damage occurs. Use products that contain carbaryl (Sevin), malathion, diazinon, acephate (Orthene), methoxychlor, trichlorfon (Dylox, Proxol) or Bacillus thuringiensis. Spray the leaves, twigs, limbs, and tree trunks. Large trees may require a commercial application. Insecticide label clearances are subject to change.  Always read and follow the labels on the container.

Lonnie Jenschke is an Erath County extension agent.