Small catapillars? infesting my cottonwoods

Asked July 26, 2013, 8:47 PM EDT

I have noticed that my cottonwoods, I live on cow creek, leaves are all dry and curling up. When I took a closer look, there are small black catapiller type looking things all over the leaves eating them. Anybody else seen this? I've lived here for seventeen years and this is a new one. Reminds me of the ones we had in Minnesota on the elm trees except they don't seem to have webs, nor do I see them on the ground at all. What to do, what to do, hah! Any ideas? I'm off to check out the neighbors trees. Thank you. Ann Reis 39015 County Road 33, Steamboat Springs, CO.


1 Response

Hi Ann-
I'm wondering if you can provide me any other information, and if we're lucky, some photos. Curling and drying leaves are typically caused by something other than the caterpillars that 'eat' the leaves. Could there be two things going on here? I know it's nearly impossible to see the leaves up high on the trees (assuming it's a mature cottonwood) but is there something different up there? If you are able to take photos and email them to me, try to take the following:
1. Overall picture of the tree
2. The 'dried up' leaves
3. The chewed leaves
4. The caterpillars
It would be easier to communicate directly rather than via this eXtension page. You can email me at