Cankerworms as food…..

…for other animals of course.  Birds eat a lot of cankerworms and may even have more DSC00427chicks or greater chick survival when there are so many caterpillars to eat.  This week I have found arthropod predators chowing down.  I found several species of ants carrying cankerworms back to their nests or wrestling with them on the sidewalk.  The ant pictured could have used some help getting the cankerworm up over a curb.



One of my favorite groups of predators, carabid beetles, also seem to be taking advantageDSC00433 of the bounty. I have seen more carbids in the genus Calosoma this year than ever before. Calosoma species are forest dwellers (and urban campus dwellers apparently) that eat caterpillars. One species, Calosoma sycophant, was imported from Europe to try and combat gypsy moth.  Unfortunately, no one told them and they eat whatever caterpillars come along. Gypsy moth continues to be a problem.  Anyway they are big and beautiful and voracious predators.

Spiders have also had a pretty easy time this year. This jumping spider was on the railing and had just captured a cankerworm when I started tormenting it.  I have also seen wolf

Jumping spider with cankerworm. Photo: S.D. Frank

Jumping spider with cankerworm. Photo: S.D. Frank

spiders on tree trunks and on the ground eating cankerworms.

Just remember these predacious arthropods (and baby birds if thats your thing) when you see defoliated trees (which will be fine by the way) or  when you’re tired of having caterpillars in your hair (which will also be fine).


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