Eastern tent caterpillars

Eastern Tent Caterpillars

How to get rid of them

Eastern tent caterpillars, forest tent caterpillars, the fall web worm, and gypsy moths are often confused by the public.

These caterpillars are very similar

But there are differences that are clear if you know what to look for.The eastern tent caterpillars have a chewing mouth and constructs tents from which the larvae feed before they become those destructive caterpillars we all have seen crawling everywhere. They tend to select cherry, plum, peach, pecan trees and are the first creepy crawlers that we see in the spring.

These caterpillars defoliate trees which usually does not hurt the tree but it sure looks bad and become a real nuisance and mess when they crawl by and you squish them under your feet.

Active for 10 weeks and different from the others

After about 10 weeks of activity, they become reddish-brown adult moths. The eastern tent caterpillars nest is found in the crotches of trees and not on the branch ends like the forest tent caterpillars or the hard case egg nests of the gypsy moth.

NATURAL ORGANIC CONTROL:

  • Cuckoo birds are their only predator who eats the caterpillar.
  • Small parasitic wasps lay their eggs in the larvae for food for their larvae.
  • Removal and destruction of the caterpillar or the tent or egg case is effective. Use a stick to wind and twist the tent off the tree or prune or scrape the case off the tree and squash it or toss it or drop the caterpillars in a jar of soapy water to kill them.
  • Do not burn the nest as burning will damage the tree for sure.

CHEMICAL CONTROL:

  • Larvae in the nest are sprayed when they crawl out to feed because their tent protects them from the insecticide when they are inside.
  • Caterpillars if sprayed directly as they crawl will be quickly controlled. Use all pesticides only as instructed on their labels.

Call a local expert pest control agent to help you out with them if they are out of control.