Caterpillars are covering Manitoba backyards and trees, but University of Manitoba entomologist Rob Currie said the worst of the forest tent caterpillar infestation could be yet to come.

Currie said last year, Manitoba saw some populations and this year it’s seen an increase. The outbreaks can be to the point the caterpillars cross the road and make the pavement slick, Currie said.

"We are probably in the beginning of an outbreak phase. So it might expand over the next several years, and we might see more and more over the coming years," he said.

Currie said forest tent caterpillars tend to have an outbreak every seven to 10 years in Manitoba. The last significant one was in 2001.

It's no comfort to Selkirk resident Cheri Jacobson. Her deck, recycling bins, sheds and fences are crawling with caterpillars.

The situation is so bad she can't sit outside, and said her dogs are afraid of the bugs.

She also worries about her trees; caterpillars removed the buds and leaves on two of them. She hopes her pear tree will be spared.

"I walk constantly like a ninja with my hands in front of my face. I don't want those webs on my face. Before I go in my house, I have to make sure I have none in my hair," said Jacobson.

Jacobson has tried power washing, dish soap, and malathion -- nothing seems to work. She said the critters destroyed the leaves on two trees outside.

“We kill them and then a new batch comes back within hours," she said. “They're taking over everything."

In Transcona's Mission Gardens area, caterpillars are crawling through trees.

One woman who walks in the area couldn't believe how numerous the caterpillars have become in such a short amount of time. She worries about the caterpillars eating all the leaves before summer.

Currie said it's too late to stop the caterpillars, for the most part this year, but homeowners can be pro-active next year. He suggests homeowners prune trees in July when the insects lay their eggs.

He said Malathion and BTK will do the trick to help enjoy your yard for the rest of the summer, but you need to act fast. Home Hardware in Selkirk told CTV News it's sold out of BTK and won't get a new shipment until Wednesday.

Caterpillar solutions

The City of Selkirk told CTV News it does not plan to spray for the caterpillars this year.

The City of Winnipeg said it's spraying each night, weather permitting, and will continue to do so until forest tent caterpillars stop feeding, which is expected by mid-June. It said these caterpillars will not kill the trees.

The City of Winnipeg recommends using soap and water to get rid of caterpillars on shrubs. For trees, it suggests BTK.

Poulin’s Pest Control Services bug expert Taz Stuart recommended a type of pyrethroid, a natural solution made from the chrysanthemum flowers, which kills the caterpillars on contact.

He said water does not work. It's better to sweep them away with a broom.