PHILADELPHIA (WTXF) Some people find them cute but a handful of people in Northeast Philadelphia don’t think so. They get itchy just talking about them-- caterpillars.
“You are almost trapped inside your own house” says a resident of the 3300 Block of Chesterfield Road in West Torresdale.
Neighbors are talking about the sudden infestation of caterpillars. Not just a few, tens of thousands. Probably more. We saw driveways and sidewalks are covered in the bugs. Dead and alive.
“It comes to a point where it’s like a horror movie” says resident Ashley Mlodzinski.
Mlodzinski is one of several FOX 29 viewers who have called us complaining about the infestation that happens every spring. But many on this block say it’s never been this bad.
"It's at least 10 times worse it’s never been like this” says Bobbi DeFelice. She’s lived here for 40 years and says when she called the City of Philadelphia to complain she was told there was nothing they could do.
“When I called the city I said I feel like we’re being overcome with caterpillars here. And I was in the house and I had one on my shoulder” she said.
The reason for the caterpillar infestation is right across the street in a wooded lot. That’s where you can see cherry and maple trees dotted with hundreds of caterpillar tents.
According to the Penn State University Department of Entomology, the pests that will eventually turn into moths are known to strip the away all the leaves and twigs from trees where they live.
There are so many of the caterpillars many residents are using shovels, brooms, hot water and insecticides to keep them from invading their home.
“Once you clean it up they’re all back” says one resident.
Entomologists say the eastern tent caterpillars have a feeding cycle for 6-8 weeks. Which means caterpillars may be here a little while longer.
“No barefoot around here. Definitely not” said Mlodzinski.