What Kills Eastern Tent Caterpillars

Tent Caterpillars – How do I get rid of tent caterpillars?

Wizzie Brown contributed to this article. Tent caterpillars attack a variety of broadleaf trees and shrubs, causing unattractive webs, or tents, to appear on the leaves. When their populations reach a critical mass, the caterpillars can defoliate trees, causing them to develop more slowly. They prey on ornamental and fruit trees, among other things. Early and correct identification of tent caterpillars, knowing their life cycle, and the use of suitable cultural or chemical management strategies are all essential for their eradication from the environment.

The eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, is the most troublesome of the four.

Life Cycle

Female moths lay their egg masses on tree trunks or tiny twigs throughout the late spring to early summer period (Fig. 1). The females of all Texas species, with the exception of the Sonoran tent caterpillar, utilize spumaline, a sticky, foamy substance, to “glue” the eggs to the bark or twigs of trees and shrubs. The spumaline also functions as a protective shell surrounding the egg mass, providing a firm, durable surface. During the majority of the summer, fall, and winter, egg masses linger on the branches of the trees.

  • Eastern and western tent caterpillars begin feeding on these fresh leaves within a few days of their appearance.
  • In most cases, the web is situated in the crotch of tiny limbs (Fig.
  • Because the larvae wander away from their tents to feed on leaves, harm can occur even if the web is located a long distance away from the tents.
  • These enormous, noticeable webs are created by the eastern and western tent caterpillars.
  • The larvae molt, or lose their skin, multiple times throughout their development.
  • The color pattern can also alter from instar to instar depending on the species.
  • 3).
  • Between feedings, dozens of caterpillars may assemble on these mats to wait for their next meal.
  • Protected areas like as the web, under the bark, among dead plant material on the ground, within a curled leaf, or under the eaves of homes are all common locations for spiders to hide.
  • Generally speaking, cocoons are loosely made of silk with a white or yellowish crystalline component dispersed throughout the whole thing.
  • Tent caterpillars in their adult form are brown and yellowish moths with two diagonal patterns on the front wings of their bodies (Fig.

4). Their wingspans are around 1 inch in length. They are drawn to lights, like do other moths. A single generation of tent caterpillars occurs once a year in all species. Adults only survive for a few days, during which time they mate, lay eggs, and do not consume any food.


Tent caterpillars in its infancy are brightly colored and grow to be approximately 134 inches long when fully grown. The only lengthy hairs on their body are found around the sides and on the back. Individual species may be distinguished by the colors and patterns on their larvae. If you come across tents with larvae that do not fit the descriptions in Table 1, it is most likely that they are autumn webworm tents. Fall webworms may construct tents throughout the late summer and fall and can have numerous generations per year, depending on the species.


The degree of defoliation, unattractive webs, and nuisance caused by the caterpillars should be taken into consideration when developing a management strategy. It is possible that you may need to utilize a combination of cultural and chemical procedures to achieve the optimum results. Control over one’s culture. During winter pruning, look for egg masses, which show as swellings on tiny, naked branches and are a sign of infestation. When trees are pruned, the tent caterpillar eggs are frequently removed before they develop.

  • When you discover spider webs on twigs in the spring, prune them as soon as you notice them.
  • It is not suggested to burn the web or caterpillars since it is quite dangerous.
  • Remove the dead caterpillars from the ground and dispose of them.
  • Beneficial insects can help to lower the number of tent caterpillars.
  • Trichogramma species prey on the eggs of tent caterpillars.
  • Control through chemical means.
  • The use of insecticide is pointless if the tent caterpillars have been allowed to feed and develop to completion.

Tents are weather-resistant and will remain in the tree for an extended period of time until they are removed.

Early morning or late evening applications are recommended in order to concentrate the spray on the tents when the caterpillars cluster.

The species that may be sprayed with these oils will be listed on the label of the product.

Some organically generated goods contain active substances such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)varietykurstaki, spinosad, or insecticidal soap, which are all derived from bacteria.

In order for the Bt kurstaki and spinosad to be taken up and consumed by the caterpillars, spray the plant well before applying the substance to the leaves.

Contact-kill insecticides such as insecticidal soap must be applied directly to the caterpillars in order for them to be killed.

Some of these formulations operate when they come into direct contact with the pest, while others may have an oil-based component that is comparable to horticultural (petroleum-based) oils in their composition.

There are several long-lasting, synthetic pesticide solutions available that give quicker and longer-lasting control than most plant-derived insecticides while also working on all phases of the caterpillar’s life cycle.

Bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, fluvalinate, permethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, indoxacarb, acephate, and carbaryl are all active chemicals to search for in a pesticide formulation.

Pesticide users are accountable for the impact pesticides have on their own plants or home goods, as well as any difficulties that may arise as a result of pesticide drift from their own properties to the properties or plants of their neighbors.

Also prone to change are the regulations governing the use of insecticides and pesticides. Always read and carefully follow the instructions on the product label for the most dependable instructions.


The author wishes to thank Bart Drees, Glen Moore, and Kim Schofield for review of this manuscript. All images courtesy of Bart Drees. Download a printer-friendly version of this publication: Tent Caterpillars View more GardeningLandscaping information» Do you have a question -or- need to contact an expert? Contact Your County Office

How to Get Rid of Eastern Tent Caterpillars

It’s possible that you’re dealing with a widespread insect found across North America: the tent caterpillar, if you detect web-like formations between branches of your trees, including your decorative and fruit trees. Rather from being pests, these pests are really the larvae of several different varieties of moths that establish their homes in your trees and eat on the leaves of plants. They are appropriately called for the prominent silk tents that they construct in the branches of their host trees throughout the course of their life cycle.

Tent caterpillars may be extremely destructive to plants, so understanding how to get rid of them and using safe management measures can help you preserve your plants from potentially devastating infestations.

Eastern Tent Caterpillars

Eastern tent caterpillars may be found in abundance throughout the eastern United States and the Rocky Mountains. Infestations of this species can inflict considerable harm to the look of ornamental trees, and their populations fluctuate from year to year. Soon after hatching, the caterpillars crawl up into the bends of trees where they construct webs to keep themselves warm. These parasites can be found in a range of common host trees. Eastern tent caterpillars have a hairy black body with yellow stripes and oval-shaped blue spots down the sides, and they are a kind of moth.

Gypsy moths, on the other hand, do not have this stripe.

Western Tent Caterpillars

West-coast tent caterpillars are more frequent in the Northwest, although western tent caterpillars may also be found on particular host trees in the southern Rocky Mountains, where they are known as forest tent caterpillars. The two are roughly the same size, but they differ in a number of significant ways. The tent caterpillars of the western hemisphere are orange with black patterns that run down their backs. As soon as their eggs hatch in the spring, their “tents” begin to emerge. Trees are beginning to blossom at this time, and these pests begin feasting on new growth as soon as they emerge from their eggs.

Forest Tent Caterpillars

Caterpillars that live in forest tents are distinctive in appearance. It is easy to distinguish them by their blue hue with black specks and the white marks in the shape of feet in the center of their backs, which are in the middle of their backs.

Similarly to spider webs, these are silken mats that are placed between tree branches, and they are not regarded to be “tents.” Some examples of host plants are as follows:

Other Insects That Are Mistaken for Tent Caterpillars

There are several different sorts of moths and insects that are often mistaken for tent caterpillars, including lacewings and aphids. They have a variety of consequences for your property.

Gypsy Moths

Gypsy moth caterpillars are distinct from tent caterpillars, which implies that gypsy moth caterpillar control methods will differ slightly from tent caterpillar control methods. Gypsy moths don’t come in the spring, but rather later in the year, when the weather warms up. An entirely new generation arises each year, and they harm a wide variety of ornamental shrubs, conifers, and trees. They can also be seen on fruit trees and shrubs.

Fall Webworms

If you hear someone mention tent worms, it’s possible that they’re referring about autumn webworms instead. Although they are not tent caterpillars, the terms “tent caterpillar” and “tent caterpillar” are sometimes used interchangeably. Fall webworms are distinguished from eastern tent caterpillars by their appearance and behavior. They are creamy-white, hairy, and speckled with black spots, but eastern tent caterpillars are not. Their webs are spun over the tops of branches and leaves, and they also eat within their webs, as opposed to tent caterpillars, which only utilize their tents for protection.

Tent Caterpillar Lifecycle and Control

Knowing the pest’s lifecycle is essential when dealing with tent caterpillars or removing a caterpillar infestation from your property. During the early spring, eastern tent caterpillars make their initial appearance and finish their lifecycle by the end of the summer. This implies that host trees have more time to produce new foliage and are less likely to perish as a result of an infestation. They can, however, do damage to the beauty and health of a tree. During the months of January through March, eastern tent caterpillars deposit their eggs in host trees.

  • Adult moths begin producing new batches of eggs in the summer and continue to do so through the fall and into the early winter months.
  • Safer®Brand Caterpillar eggs are killed by BioNEEM®, a neem oil concentration that is used to kill the eggs of a range of insect pests, including caterpillars.
  • It is azadirachtin that is found in BioNEEM®, which is a naturally occurring Insect Growth Regulator that has been isolated from the neem seed.
  • This product is a means of removing caterpillar infestations from a structure.

Caterpillar Killer includes Bacillus thuringiensisvar.kurstaki, a naturally occurring chemical that is non-toxic to humans, birds, and other wildlife. Caterpillars, on the other hand, are killed within a few days of exposure. This product is particularly well suited for:

  • Forest tent caterpillar control, Western tent caterpillar control, Eastern tent caterpillar control, Fall webworm control, Gypsy moth control are all examples of pest control. Caterpillar control in a green step

Pruning and the introduction of natural predators are two more techniques of removing tent caterpillars from a structure. The natural enemies of caterpillars include birds and wasps, among others. Predators pluck these bugs out of trees and consume them because they are poisonous. As an alternative, if the caterpillars’ tents are within reach, you might consider cutting off the afflicted branches and burning them to get rid of tent caterpillars completely.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

ENTFACT-423: Eastern Tent Caterpillar|Download the PDF version of this fact sheet

by Ric Bessin, Extension Specialist University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

The eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, is a North American insect that is a nuisance to both humans and animals. Populations change from year to year, with epidemics happening every few years or even more often. This bug is a nuisance in the late spring and early summer because of the defoliation of trees, the construction of unattractive silken nests in trees, and the presence of roaming caterpillars crawling over plants, sidewalks, and roadways. Eastern tent caterpillar nests are most usually seen on wild cherry, apple, and crabapple trees, but they can also be found on other trees such as hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum.

See also:  How To Repair A Rip In A Tent
Figure 1. An eastern tent caterpillar.

While tent caterpillars may almost completely defoliate a tree when they are in large numbers, the tree will typically rebound and produce a new crop of leaves. Nests, on the other hand, can constitute an eyesore in the landscape, particularly if they are exposed as a result of extensive defoliation. The silken nests, which are formed in the crotches of limbs, can grow to be rather substantial in size. As soon as the larvae begin to roam in search of safe havens to pupate, there is tremendous anxiety.

They are a nuisance and may cause a sloppy mess if they are squished on driveways, sidewalks, and patios, for example.

In general, insecticides are ineffective against fully developed larvae.

Fall webworm nests, in contrast to the tent caterpillar’s, are found at the extremities of branches, and their loosely formed webs include foliage, but the tents of the eastern tent caterpillar do not.


The eastern tent caterpillar overwinters as an egg in a mass of 150 to 400 eggs, which is the size of a grapefruit. In this case, the masses are covered with a glossy, black varnish-like substance and wrap branches that are approximately the size of a pencil or less in diameter.

Figure 2. Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses are wrapped around small twigs.

The caterpillars hatch about the time that the buds begin to open, which is normally in early March, and feed on the buds. These insects are very sociable; caterpillars from a single egg mass will remain together and create a silken tent in the crotch of a tree to protect themselves from predators. Caterpillars from two or more egg masses may congregate to create a single big colony if the conditions are right.

They remain within the tent when it is too hot outside or when it is too wet outside. They emerge to feed on leaves in the early morning, late afternoon, or early night when the temperature is not too chilly, depending on the time of year.

Figure 3. An eastern tent caterpillar nest.

A row of oval blue dots on the sides of the caterpillars, which are black with a white stripe down the back, brown and yellow lines along the sides, and a black and white stripe down the rear. In order to consume the leaves, the larvae enlarge the web, which eventually grows to be a foot or more in length. They are fully developed and 2 to 2-1/2 inches in length after 4 to 6 weeks of development. At this point, they begin to disperse from the nest in search of safe places in which to construct a cocoon on their own.

Figure 4. An adult male eastern tent moth.

The adult moth emerges from the cocoon around 3 weeks after the cocoon is laid. In coloration, the moth is reddish-brown with two faint stripes running diagonally across the forewings of each of its wings. Female moths mate and begin to deposit eggs on short branches after mating. The eggs will hatch in the spring of the following year. Every year, just one generation is produced.


  • In most years, natural enemies play a significant role in lowering the population of eastern tent caterpillars on the ground. Caterpillars are regularly parasitized by a variety of small braconid, ichneumonid, and chalcid wasps, which can be found in abundance in the wild. Some predators, as well as a few illnesses, contribute to the control of their populations. This, in part, explains why population levels fluctuate from year to year
  • Prevention and early management are therefore critical. The removal and destruction of egg masses from ornamentals and fruit trees over the winter months helps to significantly lessen the problem the following spring. Small tents may be easily removed and destroyed by hand in the early spring months. It is possible to prune out larger tents that are then destroyed or removed by twisting the nest around the end of a stick. It is not advisable to burn the tents out with a torch because this might cause significant harm to the tree. It is possible to kill young caterpillars by spraying them with a pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensisvarkurstaki. Carbaryl and malathion are two more pesticides to consider. It is more difficult to destroy larvae under tents because they are shielded beneath the webbing.

Date of last revision: 11/19 CAUTION! The pesticides recommended in this book are only approved for use in Kentucky, United States of America. Some goods may not be legal to use in your state or nation, depending on where you live. It is recommended that you consult with your local county agent or regulatory authority before applying any pesticide listed in this article. As a reminder, ALWAYS READ AND COMPLY WITH LABELED INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE! Images courtesy of Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Entomology, with the exception of the tent in the tree shot, which is courtesy of R.

Anderson, USDA Forest Service, copyright 1995.

How to Get Rid of Spring Webworms or Eastern Tent Caterpillars

Tree leaves aren’t the only things that burst forth from their shells in the springtime. Pesky insects come to life in the spring after spending the winter hibernating in a safe place. Certainly, tent caterpillars, whose thick, spun webs block out the light from a tree’s blossom, are an example of this phenomenon. Tent caterpillars, on the other hand, are rather easy to get rid of, whether you use a pesticide or a simple home treatment.

Your Guide to Getting Rid of Spring Webworms in Trees

These furry little insects, sometimes known as tent worms or Eastern tent caterpillars, are known for eating tree leaves and weaving huge, silky webs around the limbs of trees. The best time to see them is in the spring, when they may be seen on black cherry, apple, or crabapple trees. They’ll sometimes go for other types of fruit trees as well.

Are tent caterpillars harmful to trees?

When it comes to healthy, mature trees, tent caterpillars are typically not a big hazard. They do take away some of the leaves from the trees and spin some unsightly webs, but that is the extent of their harm to the trees. Only two exceptions exist: black cherry trees, which are particularly prone to tent caterpillars, and young trees, which are extremely vulnerable to tent caterpillars. If you notice caterpillars or their spider-like webs on trees, treat them as soon as possible.

How to Get Rid of Tree Worms

It is really simple to get rid of tent caterpillars.

Follow the instructions outlined below to bid these pesky creatures goodnight!

  1. Remove the spider webs by hand, and then use dish soap to destroy the tent worms. If you only have a few of tents, you may simply remove the webs off of the branches with your hands. Choose a time of day when the caterpillars are still within their webs, such as early morning or late evening. If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can wrap the webs around a broomstick. Once they are done, place them in a bucket filled with water and dish soap. Take things seriously. When dealing with enormous infestations that are impossible to eradicate by hand, a pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis, sometimes known as “Bt,” is extremely successful. Carefully read and follow the packaging directions. Alternatively, contact your local arborist and ask them to handle it. In the winter, you should get rid of caterpillar eggs. Look for eggs on tree branches in the winter to see if the caterpillars have laid any. The eggs will look like glossy, reddish-brown bulbs and will be visible through the winter. You can try scraping them off, and if that doesn’t work, you can trim the branches off the tree.

Need help ridding your trees of tent worms? Click for a free consultation with your local arborist!

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How Do I Stop Tent Caterpillars from Damaging My Trees?

During the early spring, eastern tent caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum) construct unattractive silk tents on the leaves of cherry, apple, and other landscape trees. The caterpillars feed on the leaves of these host trees and, if present in great numbers, can cause substantial defoliation of the plants. They may also be a nuisance since, when they’re ready to pupate, they prefer to wander around and make themselves at home on porches and decks.

Make Sure You’ve Really Got Tent Caterpillars

First and first, be certain that you are dealing with easterntent caterpillars and not another similar insect. During the early spring season, eastern tent caterpillars arrive and begin to construct their tents in the crotches of tree limbs. Fall webworms, as their name indicates, also construct tents, but theirs are positioned at the extremities of branches, forming an envelope around the foliage around which they are feeding. Occasionally, people confuse eastern tent caterpillars with gypsy moth larvae; however, gypsy moths do not create tents, and their larvae appear a bit later in the spring than tent caterpillars do.

Prevention and Manual Controls for Tent Caterpillars

It is not necessary to be alarmed if you notice a few caterpillar tents in an apple or cherry tree. Eastern tent caterpillars seldom infest ornamental trees in big enough numbers to cause damage to landscaping plants, according to the University of Florida. Because they appear in the early spring and finish their life cycle by the summer, the majority of your host trees will have enough time to develop more leaves after the initial defoliation occurs. There are some things you can do to discourage the invasion of caterpillar tents in your trees if the infestation isn’t too bad.

  • When it comes to preventing tent caterpillars, the greatest defense is often a well-planned offensive.
  • Remove any that you come across by pruning them out or scraping them off the branches and destroying them.
  • Tent caterpillars spend the majority of their time inside their tents after they feed, making it possible to hand remove them.
  • You may use a stick or gloved hands to pull the tent away from the branches, caterpillars and all.

Alternatively, you may smash the caterpillars or dump them in a basin of soapy water to get rid of them. Caterpillar tents were once frequently set on fire by unscrupulous individuals. Due to the fact that the method does more damage to the tree than the caterpillars, it is not advised.

Biological and Chemical Controls for Tent Caterpillars

Young larvae can be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki, often known as Bt, which is sprayed to the leaves of affected trees to kill the pest. Bt is a naturally occurring kind of bacterium that interferes with the caterpillars’ ability to digest their food, causing them to die. The caterpillars cease feeding immediately after ingesting Bt, and they die within a few days of doing so. It is not necessary to treat the tents or the caterpillars with insecticide. Ineffective treatment with Bt is available for late-stage caterpillars, particularly those that have already begun their migration to pupate.

If you believe the infestation is severe enough to necessitate such dramatic measures, consult with a pest control professional in your region to ensure the safety of your pets and animals during the process.

How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars

Tent caterpillars are the larvae of various moth and butterfly species (mentioned below), which are referred to as a group by their common name. These caterpillars, which are found throughout most of the United States and Canada, reproduce quickly and have the ability to defoliate a significant number of deciduous trees and shrubs in a short period of time. These pests are frequently seen on wayside trees and in abandoned orchards. Aside from defoliation, the larvae build big unattractive webs, or tents, in the crotches of tree limbs, which are difficult to remove.

See also:  How To Diy Wall Tent

Despite the fact that tent damage is ugly, infestations of insects seldom endanger the life of trees.


The Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a species of caterpillar that may be found east of the Rocky Mountains and north into southern Canada. In their full developed state, caterpillars are sparsely hairy and black in appearance, with a row of pale blue markings on either side of their bodies. They may be distinguished by a white stripe running down the middle of their backs, which helps to identify them. Adults are reddish brown moths that are 1-1/2 inches in length and have two white stripes running diagonally across each forewing.

  1. The Western Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum) is a pest that may be found in the northern and western regions of the United States as well as in adjacent Canadian territory.
  2. Approximately 1-1/2 inches in length, adult moths are orange-brown in color with two faint yellow lines on the underside of the wings.
  3. Malocsoma disstria is a forest tent caterpillar that may be found across the United States and Canada anywhere hardwoods can be found in the forest.
  4. americanum are similar in appearance to the adult, but instead of a solid line running down their back, they have a series of keyhole-shaped white dots.
  5. Wild cherry, aspen, maple, oak, and hawthorn are among the plants that serve as hosts.
  6. Webworms are known to feed on over 85 different types of trees and are found across North America and Mexico.
  7. One-inch-long caterpillars are coated with long hairs and range in color from yellow to green, with a black stripe along the back and a yellow stripe on each side of the body.

The color of their heads is either red or black. Adult moths (1 inch in length) are pure white in color with black markings on the wings, which are characteristic of the species.

Life Cycle

The egg stage is where the majority of tent caterpillar species overwinter. Egg masses ranging in color from dark brown to gray and holding 150 to 400 eggs are adhered to the short twigs of trees and bushes. Hatching takes occur around the time when leaf buds begin to open, which is normally in the early spring months. They are social creatures who quickly build silken tents, which they use as a haven during the early morning and evening hours, as well as during rainy spells, to protect themselves from the elements.

The larvae reach full maturity around six weeks after hatching and five instars following that time period (up to 2 inches long, sparsely hairy).

Adult moths emerge around two weeks later and deposit the overwintering eggs within a short period of time.

Note: When larvae begin to travel to sheltered regions in order to pupate, they can become a nuisance.

How to Control

  1. Prevent the larvae from starting to eat by scraping off and discarding overwintering egg masses and tearing the protective tents out by hand before they start to feed. With this method, you may restrict caterpillar mobility and deny them access to eating locations. Sticky Tree Bands or Tree Tanglefoot Pest Barrier are two options for preventing pest infestations. The naturally occurring soil-dwelling bacteriumBacillus thuringiensis, often known as Bt-kurstaki, is highly powerful against all species of inch worms. At the first indication of damage, use a spray that is simple to apply to knock out the worms and safeguard the foliage. It is safe to use BTKsprays near dogs and children since they do not damage honey bees or birds
  2. Spinosad, a biological substance developed from fermentation, is also extremely useful in a variety of applications. In fact, it’s the active ingredient in Monterey Garden Insect Spray, a product that has been classified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program and listed for organic use by the Organic Materials Review Institute
  3. AzaMaxcontains azadirachtin, which is the key insecticidal ingredient found in neem oil. This very powerful spray interferes with the growth and development of nuisance insects while also acting as a repellant and anti-feedant. In addition to being non-toxic to honey bees and many other helpful insects, it should only be used as a last resort for dealing with bug infestations. Natural pesticides, which are derived from plants that contain insecticidal qualities, have less adverse side effects than synthetic chemicals and degrade more quickly in the environment.

Note: Although more than 80 species of predators and parasites have been identified in the United States, none of them are now available for purchase on the market. During the majority of the year, these insects serve a crucial role in keeping pest populations under control. As a result, extreme caution must be exercised while spraying pesticides in order to avoid causing harm to these important species.

tent caterpillar control and treatments for the yard home and garden

Tent caterpillars are a very busy pest that may be found throughout the year. They have voracious appetites and will consume nearly any plant they come upon. Their nests are unattractive, their feeding habits are detrimental to plants, and they quickly move inside practically any building, creating a shambles in the process. Tent caterpillars are covered in full in this article, which will also explain how to control local infestations and nests on your property, as well as what products to use.

  • These animals are normally dark in appearance — primarily black – with a few lengthy, brightly colored stripes running down their backs.
  • It is possible that these lines be brown or yellow in color.
  • Even though they are scarcely detectable at this time, they will become more active when the surrounding plant life begins to produce their spring foliage in the coming months.
  • In the event that the host tree or shrub on which they originated does not supply sufficient food, the ants will travel to other adjacent native plants for sustenance.
  • Every evening after dark, the spiders will return to their host tree and begin spinning a “tent” that will continually expand to meet their ever-increasing size.
  • These tents, which are generally ugly, are white and silky in appearance and arise where the host tree’s limbs grow in two different directions at the same time.
  • These colonies will begin with several hundred caterpillars, and their “tents” can range in size from as tiny as a soccer ball to as huge as a compact automobile!

All of the tents will have been deserted, and caterpillars will be observed traveling in all directions, with no apparent purpose in mind.

In the course of their journey, they would frequently crawl on top of houses.

Once they have selected a comfortable area where they feel safe and sheltered, they will spin a cocoon and go through the process of transformation.

Females (adult moths) will search for a suitable host plant on which to lay eggs, and after they have located one, they will deposit 200-300 eggs on a branch that is kept together by a sticky material that is produced as part of the egg laying process.

When tent caterpillars feed, they may do a great deal of harm.

Because they will be unable to perform normal photosynthesis without their leaves, they will have to expend a significant amount of time and energy growing new leaves to replace those that have been lost, and as a result, they will be significantly more vulnerable to other problems such as disease and parasites.

Furthermore, caterpillar droppings will be found below host plants and will create a sloppy mess on automobiles, homes, lawn chairs, and other items of furniture.

They may be found beneath any host plant and can become quite a nuisance if the local populace is in high numbers and consuming the droppings.

Their excrement is corrosive, and it will “eat” through almost any type of automotive finish, causing it to deteriorate.

In proportion to the size of each individual caterpillar, the colony will expand the size of their “tent.” Despite the fact that caterpillars begin each season little and scarcely apparent, they will eventually grow to reach more than 2 inches in length, necessitating the expansion of the nest’s “tent” to suit each individual’s increased size.

  • Don’t be shocked if you come across nests the size of a basketball or even bigger.
  • From year to year, trees that have been effective in attracting nesting birds will attract additional birds since past generations will automatically recognize a suitable host plant.
  • In addition, if the damage, droppings, and unsightliness of their nests aren’t enough to establish them as a legitimate annoyance, their yearly migration will undoubtedly do the trick.
  • They will begin to leave the main nest once the larvae have consumed sufficient food in order to find an appropriate site where they may undergo transformation.
  • They like to move sites in a safe and discrete manner, and they appear to enjoy man-made structures just as much as they do natural trees while doing so.
  • During this period, the migrating larva will be out in large numbers, moving in all ways from the main nest, and if they come across a house or other structure, they will almost certainly attempt to make it their home for the next month.
  • Indeed, if your property is near the tent caterpillars’ migration route, you may find yourself the victim of an invasion each and every year.

Tent caterpillars are a difficult pest to remove, but there are several extremely efficient treatments for them available.

This concentration is essentially a concentrated bacterium in a concentrated form.

It is safe to spray thuricidal solutions on any plant, vegetable, or fruit without creating a concern, and it is an excellent preventative item to use – particularly if you are treating before the pests come.

Every two weeks, go on a retreat.

Another strategy is to place a band of INSECT GLUE around the trunk of any tree that has been identified.

Make the band at least 1 inch wide; a container of Insect adhesive will treat 3-5 big trees if the band is 1 inch wide.

This is a fantastic preventative treatment that will prevent all insects from gaining access to valuable plants in the future.

Organic products recognized and certified for caterpillar control are few, however we have discovered that BT GARDEN DUST andMULTI PURPOSE INSECT KILLER provide the most effective results.

Caterpillars that are fed with BT dust will die within 7-10 days of consuming plants and leaves treated with the dust.

Because of the height of your trees, dusting will not be an option for you.

While used on organic gardens (fruits and vegetables), this fast-acting concentrate is permitted for usage.

Use no more than 800 sq/ft of foliage to apply the mixture, which should include 5 oz per gallon of water.

The use of this concentrate on food crops is not recommended; nonetheless, it is wonderful for any tree, shrub, or even for the home’s landscape.

Bifen treatments can last for up to a month and can effectively eliminate virtually every bug that comes into contact with them on treated surfaces.

Because caterpillars have a lot of hair, you need use SPREADER STICKER in your tank mix.

When spraying plants, it is often difficult to get enough coverage due to the fact that leaves have undersides that are resistant to direct spray.

Furthermore, it will increase the direct effect that Bifen has on the caterpillars that have been targeted.

If you have a large number of nests that you wish to cure immediately, you have two alternatives.

This can be tricky since most nests will be high up in the tree and the webbing can be quite thick.

This will ensure that all caterpillars have returned to the nest and are laying eggs inside of it.

Make three or four holes in their tent using a stick or pole.

Once access holes are made, spray the solution you have prepared on the nest.

Another product to utilize for a direct treatment isHORNET KILLER.

You still need to poke 3-4 holes per tent prior to spraying them but once access points are made, soak the nest down for a quick kill.

See also:  How To Build Your Own Grow Tent

Remember, this is only good for treating nests directly and is not suggested for spraying over foliage as this will damage the tree, shrub, etc.

First, spray the entire outside of the home withCYPERMETHRIN.

If the house already has caterpillars up in the eaves and under soffits, spray these areas as well.

Mix 1 oz per gallon of water and add 1 oz of the Spreader Sticker listed above to your tank mix.

If they’re already in the home, Cypermethrin can be applied to affected areas.

Its better suited to get into cracks and crevices since it comes with a handy tube injector.

Tent caterpillars will remain active for a few days inside the home so its important to get a good treatment down as soon as possible.

When spraying for tent caterpillars, anyPUMP SPRAYERwill do the job.

If you need to reach heights of 20 feet or more, go with aTROMBONE SPRAYER.

Another option is a goodHOSE END SPRAYER.

Tent caterpillars are mostly considered harmless pests.

Keep them under control in the yard with any of the concentrates listed above.

But once on the home, use Cypermethrin and FS MP Aerosol to knock out the invasion.

Give us a call if you need further help.

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Identify and Control Tent Caterpillars

In the spring, several different varieties of caterpillars weave tentlike webs in the branches of trees and shrubs. Tent caterpillars are a kind of caterpillars that spin ugly webs and eat plant leaves, thus the name. The protective webs expand in tandem with the number of hungry larvae. They may prefer small fruit trees such as cherries and crabapples, but they may attack a wide variety of other trees and ornamental shrubs, depending on the species in question. Plants that have been defoliated are weaker and more prone to attack by various insect pests and diseases.

  • Their black bodies are covered with fine, reddish hairs.
  • From a distance, other species appear to be similar, but their markings differ.
  • Their eggs overwinter in lustrous, black egg masses that ring twigs and are protected from the elements.
  • The bugs congregate outside the tents to feast on the food.
  • Management: Tent caterpillar control is most effective when applied early in the spring when caterpillars and webs are tiny.
  • For smaller trees and shrubs,GardenTech ®brandoffers very efficient treatments that eliminate tent caterpillars by touch and maintain protecting for up to three months:
  • For treating shrubs and small trees completely, such as to guard them against developing caterpillars and to treat active infestations, Sevin ®Insect Killer Concentrateis an excellent choice. Use of the chemical in conjunction with a pump-style sprayer results in extensive coverage and direct treatment of webs and their surrounding regions. Make sure to completely cover all plant surfaces, giving particular care to forks where branches come together. Sevin ®Insect Killer Ready to Spray makes it easier to treat tent caterpillars before and after their tents form, saving you time and money. The tool fits to a standard garden hose and automatically measures and mixes the solution as you spray. Cover all plant surfaces completely with the product, and treat tents immediately. Caterpillars come into touch with the spray as they enter and exit the feeding chamber.

Prevent overwintering egg masses from forming on trees and shrubs by pruning them before they hatch. Webs should be removed on chilly or wet days, when caterpillars are more likely to be hiding within. Reading product labels and following the directions exactly are essential, especially when it comes to pre-harvest intervals for fruits and other culinary crops. GardenTech is a trademark of Gulfstream Home and Garden, Inc., which is owned by Gulfstream Home and Garden. Tessenderlo Kerley, Inc.


  • “Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)” by Ryan Hodnett is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license, and “Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma americana)” by Aaron Carlson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 license. “Eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)” by Whitney Cranshaw at Colorado State University (Bugwood.org) is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
  • “Eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)” by Whitney Cranshaw at Colorado State University (Bugwood.org) is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
  • “Eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)” by Whitney Cranshaw at Colorado

Controlling Eastern Tent Caterpillars in Your NJ Landscape

You have no idea who is sleeping under your trees’ leaves in silk tents and consuming their whole supply of leaves. The caterpillar in question is most likely the Eastern tent caterpillar. The Eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a native insect in its larval (immature) stage and is easily recognized by it’s silk “tents”. The mature stage, on the other hand, is usually not something you notice. During the summer, adult moths may be seen in your garden, and they have a limited lifetime compared to the rest of the population of the species.

Female tent caterpillars, on the other hand, deposit hundreds of eggs on the branches of the trees that they love to feed on before dying. Thousands of caterpillars might be devouring your trees the next spring as a result of this development.

How to Recognize the Eastern Tent Caterpillar

See if you can find this bug in the trees that it favors. These are mostly apple (Malus) and cherry (Prunus) tree species, and they include the following:

  • Almond, apple and crabapple, apricot, peach, pear, plum, hawthorn, wild cherry, mountain ash (Sorbus), and other trees and shrubs

Look For Egg Masses

Look for eggs on these trees during the fall and winter months. The egg masses deposited by the female moths are tiny, black, and have a glossy appearance, indicating that they are freshly placed. It is common to find them on branches, with the mass of flowers completely around the limb. Because they’re so little, you may have to search for them for quite some time. These masses remain in situ throughout the winter and hatch out in the spring. You may see a picture of an egg mass by clicking here.

Spot Adult Caterpillars

Unlike the larval stage, the adult Eastern tent caterpillar is black and hairy. It features white stripes going down the length of its body, with thinner brown and yellow lines running down the sides, as well as blue patches on its back. When completely developed, it is around 1.5 to 2 inches in length.

Watch Out For Tents

The emergence of eastern tent caterpillars coincides with the emergence of the host tree’s fresh spring leaf growth. You’ll notice them as soon as they begin to form their distinctive “tents” or spun cocoons on branches and in branch crotches, which are easily identifiable. They also increase their tents when they begin to devour the tree’s buds and leaves and develop, which coincides with the growth of the caterpillars. In summer, the adult moths emerge from their cocoons and begin their life cycle all over again.

However, during this point of their development, you will not see the caterpillars eating any leaves and instead will find them traveling over sidewalks, along highways, and up buildings in their hunt for a cocoon location.

Tree Damage Caused by Eastern Tent Caterpillars

Trees put out tender, juicy new leaves and buds in the spring, and caterpillars gorge themselves on them. Damage can range from mild to severe depending on the quantity of caterpillars present, as well as the size and condition of your trees. Often, the larvae consume the whole canopy of leaves of a tree. The majority of the time, this type of damage is simply a cosmetic concern. Caterpillar damage of this magnitude often weakens the tree only after three or more years of defoliation more than 50% of the tree’s canopy.

3 Options for Dealing With Tent Caterpillars

Depending on your degree of comfort, you may choose to use a variety of methods to manage or eliminate Eastern tent caterpillars from your trees.

Option 1 – Leave them Alone

If your trees are in good health and the caterpillar population is not overpowering, staying put is typically the best course of action. Once the caterpillars have caused significant spring leaf damage for a month or so, they will cease eating.

Your trees will continue to develop throughout their life cycle, with little or no negative impact on their overall health in most cases. Because tent caterpillar populations fluctuate from year to year, you may have many years of low tent caterpillar populations and no leaf damage.

Option 2 – RemoveDispose of Them

If you are unable to leave them in situ, the quickest and most effective methods of removing egg masses or spun tents are to remove them by hand or to cut out the afflicted branches. It is simplest to remove egg masses from deciduous host trees in the winter, when the branches of the host trees are bare. The eggs may be killed by simply removing the eggs off the tree and burning them or soaking them in soapy water. When you notice tents in the spring, you may take them down. This is a simple task that can be completed by hand or with long-handled garden tools.

  • If you notice Eastern tent caterpillars in your tree, you have a few options for what to do next.
  • To clean up after yourself after removing the nest by hand, simply put it into a bucket of soapy water.
  • The larvae will not survive if they do not have access to light and nourishment.
  • NOTE: If you are apprehensive about handling either eggs or caterpillars, trimming is a preferable alternative than planting.
  • Pruning away an excessive number of branches strains a tree, especially during the warm spring months when the tree is already exerting considerable energy to produce leaves and blossoms.

Option 3 – Spray With Insecticide

Another technique of control is to treat the tree with a pesticide before it blooms or grows. This has the potential to lower the population of caterpillars that are capable of reproducing, hence reducing the caterpillar population the following year. Spraying is effective provided it is done appropriately and at the appropriate time. Non-toxic insecticides, in particular, must be administered at the appropriate stage of an insect’s life cycle and at a time when the sprays would not harm other insects in the vicinity.

Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) is the most ecologically friendly biological control approach available, but it must be sprayed in May in order to be successful.

These insecticides, on the other hand, can kill other beneficial insects that you may wish to have in your garden. There are various varieties of parasitic wasps that naturally destroy tent caterpillars, which are among the helpful insects you should look for.

What NOT to Do!

Using fire to burn off the caterpillar webs is not recommended. While using a flame torch may be enjoyable, you will only cause damage to your tree by burning the bark. Under addition, in dry circumstances, blazing tents and leaves have the potential to spread fire to other places.

What to Do If Your Tree Has Been Defoliated

If your trees have been defoliated by the Eastern tent caterpillar, we recommend that you water them on a regular basis and fertilize them with organic fertilizer to help them recover. Consequently, the trees will experience less stress, increasing their chances of recovering fast.

We Can Help

If your trees have been defoliated by the Eastern tent caterpillar, we recommend that you water them on a regular basis and fertilize them with organic fertilizer to prevent further damage. Consequently, the trees will experience less stress, which will improve their ability to recover more rapidly in the future.

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