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Letter: Caterpillar infestation is for the birds — the cuckoo bird, specifically

Rare bird could help quell the mass numbers of tent caterpillars
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tent caterpillats on tree Tim Toeppner 2017
Photo courtesy Tim Toeppner.

Editor's note: The following letter is in response to the story, “'Seething brown mass of tent caterpillars' nearly causes Island biker to crash."

Well, they overtook Kapuskasing last year, and now Hearst as of last week.

Our one hope? The rarely seen black-billed cuckoo, which feasts on these ravenous 'pillar infestations. When a cuckoo's stomach lining gets overly matted with caterpillar hairs, the cuckoo simply sheds its lining and regrows it. (See author-ecologist Michael J. Caduto's article "Of Cuckoos and Caterpillars" from New Hampshire-based Northern Woodlands magazine, July 10, 2005.)

Eastern towhees, brown thrashers, gray catbirds, crows, pheasants, robins, orioles and flickers will also eat them, too.

So, let's pray for more cuckoos — lots of hungry ones!

V. Granholm
Hearst 




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