Forest tent caterpillars

Forest Tent Caterpillars

How to get rid of them

Courtesy of Jeff Hahn Univ Minn

Forest tent caterpillars, eastern tent caterpillars, the fall web worm, and gypsy moths are often confused.

These caterpillars are very similar but there are differences that are clear if you know what to look for.

The forest tent caterpillar pictured above constructs tents at the ends of branches and in which they become those destructive caterpillars we all have seen crawling everywhere. They are some of the first caterpillar crawlers that we see in the spring.

These tent caterpillars defoliate trees which usually does not hurt the tree except visually and these tent caterpillars become a real nuisance and mess when they crawl by and you squash them under your feet.

After about 10 weeks of activity, they become reddish-brown adult moths.Their nest is found at the ends of tree branches and not on the crotches of branches like the eastern tent caterpillars or the hard case egg nests of the gypsy moth.

NATURAL ORGANIC CONTROL: Like eastern tent caterpillars, cuckoo birds are their only predator who eats the caterpillar. However small parasitic wasps do lay their eggs in the larvae for their larvae to dine on.

Removal and destruction of the caterpillar or the tent or egg case is very 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.

Larvae and or caterpillars in the nest must be sprayed when they crawl out periodically to feed or the tent will protect them from the insecticide that was applied.

Caterpillars if sprayed directly as they crawl will be quickly controlled. Apply these pesticides as instructed on their labels.