Bug invasion poses woes for Winnipeg restaurant patio
Published Friday, May 22, 2015 4:15PM CST Last Updated Friday, May 22, 2015 6:08PM CST
A bug invasion on a Winnipeg patio created major problems for Earls Polo Park Manager Shyla Goertzen and her staff.
"Unfortunately, everyone's creeping and crawling away from their tables," said Goertzen.
Tent caterpillars began dropping by the outdoor seating area earlier this week while munching on an item not featured on the restaurant's menu - leaves.
The problem got so bad that on Thursday night Goertzen stopped seating people outside.
"Unfortunately, (we) had to close down yesterday because they literally just swarmed everywhere."
The creepy crawlers came from some nearby trees located just outside the patio but Goertzen said a lot of customers still wanted to sit outside.
“And we're like, ‘OK, you can but there's caterpillars.’"
The caterpillars dangled over customers' heads while chewing on leaves and making webs - a combination that didn't pair well with a nice meal outside.
"They're very annoying,” said customer Chris Davin. “And they're scary and I don't want them on my back or my hair. So yeah, I can understand why they wouldn't let us in there today."
The patio had reopened Friday evening.
City staff examined the insects and said they are eastern or western tent caterpillars and that they tend to be localized to certain areas and isolated to a few trees.
Caterpillars Julie Khan doesn't want to see anywhere near her yard.
"You never know if it's going to stick in your hair and that kind of freaks me out,” said Khan.
Experts said it's tough to predict if the caterpillars will strike elsewhere.
"If they're coming out this early and there are that many of them, you could see some parts of the city getting some great, large activity. Other parts not," said Taz Stuart of Poulin’s Pest Control.
Caterpillars aren't the only problem. With recent heavy rains over the last 10 days, Winnipeggers should get ready for an onslaught of mosquitoes to take flight.
The first ones could start appearing anytime in the next seven days.
"If it doesn't rain some more maybe it'll be okay. I'm hoping," said Khan.
Earls called in Poulin's Pest Control to spray a pesticide and by Friday afternoon their patio was back up and running - caterpillar and chemical free.
The caterpillars like certain species of trees. They can commonly be found on elm, ash, maple, aspen and ornamental trees.
You can knock them off your tree with a broom into a bag, spray them with a contact insecticide, which will kill them quickly, or you can use a biological spray like Btk which takes two to three days to get rid of the caterpillars.