In this edition of “Ask Matt,” Hot Springs Village POA Associate Director of Public Services Matt Broom answers a question from a resident concerned about a beetle infestation.

Resident:  I am noticing tons of small black pellets falling from the trees this summer and seeing more and more of these beetles lately.  Are these beetles responsible for the beetle infestation of our pine trees?  Also, are the black pellets a sign of the tree being diseased or dying?

Matt:  Interestingly enough, the two are connected.  The black pellet-like substance falling from our trees is coming from caterpillars.  Gypsy moth larvae emerge in Spring and begin munching on the leaves during summer after they are in full foliage.  The caterpillars feed during the night hours and release droppings.  During the day, they climb down to escape the heat, and that is where the beetles come into play.  The beetle you asked about is a ground beetle commonly called “caterpillar hunter.”  They are carnivorous, so they are not pine beetles.  They help control the gypsy moth and tent caterpillar population, which benefits our forests. 

Ask Matt Wildlife Forestry Edition Matt Broom
Caterpillar Hunter Beetle

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