Easy Ways to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars from your Tree

By: albertaarb - May 25, 2018

Don't confuse tent caterpillars with fall webworms


What is a Tent Caterpillar?


The good news about tent caterpillars is that when it comes to tree bugs, these fall closer to the category of annoyance rather than a serious threat to your trees’ health. This is little comfort if you still need to get rid of them for cosmetic purposes or any other reason, though. Read on for info on what draws these caterpillars out in the first place and what you can do to get rid of them.

The Trouble with Tent Caterpillars

Chances are that you probably see the calling card of tent caterpillars before you actually see them for yourself. These are web-like structures that generally are seen between the branches of trees. This common North American pest is actually a set of larvae of moths that burrow into trees and feed on leaves to sustain themselves. Those silk structures between the branches of trees they live in are the “tents” that have given them their name.

Oftentimes, tent caterpillars are confused for other types of insects, including gypsy moth larvae and fall webworms. You don’t want to make this mistake because each of these species has different ways to get rid of them. For gypsy moths, the major difference is when they appear-later in the year than tent caterpillars. Fall webworms look different, with hairy bodies and dark spots.

Tent caterpillars don’t kill trees, but they do eat leaves. This causes your tree unneeded stress which can impact its ability to blossom or bear fruit, depending on the species.

Getting Rid of Tent Caterpillars

When it comes to getting rid of tent caterpillars, you’re not pigeonholed into a few options. There are many different sprays that can kill them, but you want to pick out one that won’t damage your tree as well. Some people even use a small torch to burn the nests, but there is an obvious safety hazard here. If you are willing to take a longer road, it may not be a bad idea to introduce natural predators. Bringing in predator wasps or creating a bird-friendly environment will probably cut down on tent caterpillar numbers.

Is There Another Way?

If you’re interest in non-lethal or natural methods, there may be some available options, though you do trade some efficiency when using these. In some cases, you can remove the caterpillars’ nests or egg cases by hand. For larger ones, you may want to want to wind them around a stick or prune them so they can be destroyed.

Whether you want to remove tent caterpillars or kill them outright, a professional tree service is your ideal asset.

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