Eastern Tent Caterpillars: How to get rid of them

Easterntentcatrpillars

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 apparent if you know what to look for. For a comparison chart of the differences, click here.

The eastern tent caterpillar has 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.
After about 10 weeks of activity, they become reddish brown adult moths.

Their 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 must be sprayed when they crawl out periodically to feed or the tent will protect them from the insectide that was applied.
  • Caterpillars if sprayed directly as they crawl will be quickly controlled. Use all pesticides only as instructed on their labels.

Forest Tent Caterpillars: How to get rid of them

Foresttentcatepillar 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 apparent if you know what to look for. For a comparison chart of the differences, click here.

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.

CHEMICAL CONTROL:
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.


Caterpillars: All The Differences

There is incredible confusion by the public each year as caterpillars crawl around each year.

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar and the Forest Tent Caterpillar and the Gypsy Moth look very similar to the untrained eye but in reality are quite different in looks.

The purpose of this web page is to let you understand the differences in a very easy to understand format.


EGG STAGE:

  • Eastern Tent: A dark mass with tapered ends encircling a twig
  • Forest Tent: A dark mass with square ends encircling a twig
  • Gypsy Moth: A light mass that is placed anywhere including lawn chairs

CATERPILLAR LARVAE STAGE: (All are about 2 inches long)

  • Eastern Tent: Dark with white line down back and blue and black spots on sides and black head
  • Forest Tent: Dark with light blue lines down its sides, white footprints down back and light blue head
  • Gypsy Moth: 5 pair of raised blue spots followed by 6 pair of raised red spots on its back

CATERPILLAR BEHAVIOR:

  • Eastern Tent: Hatch in spring; Regroup in tent for protection; Feed outside tent
  • Forest Tent: Hatch in spring; Migrate to tree tops; Crawl single file
  • Gypsy Moth: Hatch when oak buds open; strip a tree of leaves and go to next tree; leave noticeable droppings

NEST COCOON:

  • Eastern Tent: Tents are white silk with yellow powder in crotch of tree
  • Forest Tent: Tents are pale yellow silk at ends of branches with folded leaves inside
  • Gypsy Moth: No tents. Solid hard brown case attached in a protected place


EASTERN TENT CATERPILLAR PICTURE AND HOW TO GET RID OF THEM, CLICK HERE

FOREST TENT CATERPILLAR PICTURE AND HOW TO GET RID OF THEM, CLICK HERE

GYPSY MOTH CATERPILLAR PICTURE AND HOW TO GET RID OF THEM, CLICK HERE

 

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Fall Web-worm: How to get rid of tent caterpillar

Fallwebworm

The Fall web-worm is another of the tent caterpillars that get mislabeled by the general public when they see these hairy creatures crawling everywhere. The Eastern Tent Caterpillar, the Forest Tent Caterpillar and the Gypsy Moth Caterpillar all seem to be the same at a quick glance. Not so.
"The fall webworm, Hyphantria cunea (Drury).
The pale yellow, black-spotted, hairy caterpillars of this species hatch from eggs deposited on leaves by the satiny white moths. The larvae feed gregariously on foliage of many different host species from inside an unsightly web.
The larvae are hairy and tan to brown in color. The 1 inch in length caterpillars feed upon the surfaces of leaves for four to six weeks, then spin cocoons in which they pass the winter.
These cocoons are found under trash on the ground or sometimes under bark. Two to five generations occur each year. Two generations occur on pecan, one in May-June and another in July-August. Nursery trees are usually attacked in September- October.
The larvae are heavily parasitized, but may completely defoliate small trees in a short time.
Removal of the larvae in the web or by pruning is an alternative to control with insecticides."
Courtesy of the University of Florida

 

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Got caterpillars? Do this.

Fuzzy. Cute. Fun to toss and eat?

Tent Caterpillars Leaving Their Nest

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