An insect that many Saskatchewan residents regard as a bit of a nuisance is beginning to pop up again.

Tent caterpillars are known to strip the leaves from trees in their 'march' for food and are especially attracted to aspens.

Rory McIntosh, provincial forest insect and disease expert in the Forest Service Branch of the Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment, hopes to alleviate concerns about environmental harm from tent caterpillars. 

"For most people, yes they're going to get their aspen tree in the garden and yes they'll strip the tree so it looks like winter in June or July," he said. "The leaves will grow back, it's not killing the tree, especially if you keep the tree watered."

These inch to inch-and-a-half-long insects are most recognizable by their bold blue colour and patterns of red or fiery orange, and the exclamation mark-looking spots along their back.

"They come out regularly every 10 to 12 years and will build populations that can reach outbreaks like in 2016-17 up in the northern forest," noted McIntosh.

Repetitive defoliation and drought can put too much stress on trees and can then cause a problem.

If they're becoming more of a problem, people can use a hose to wash them away or a biological pesticide that can be applied to foliage called BTK, which is available at most hardware stores.

"They are a natural part of the forest, I don't view them as bad," he added. "I know they'll be back, I just wonder in their beauty."

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