Eastern Tent Caterpillars are very common in this area from late April through early June. These native insects create nests that resemble webs in the crotches of trees and emerge to feed during warm sunny days. If you’ve noticed webs forming in the crotches of your tree, it’s likely you have an Eastern Tent Caterpillar issue. Depending on the condition of your tree, Eastern Tent Caterpillars damage can range from a strictly aesthetic situation to a serious health situation.
Identifying Eastern Tent Caterpillars
- Eastern Tent Caterpillars have blue, black and orange markings, and a white stripe down the back.
- They are mostly smooth but have a series of hairs sticking out along the sides of their bodies.
- They are two inches long when fully grown.
Trees Susceptible to Eastern Tent Caterpillars
Eastern Tent Caterpillars affect most species of deciduous trees including maples, willows, and poplars; however, our Arborists suggest keeping a close eye on your Cherry and Crab Apple trees.
Young trees and stressed/unhealthy trees are extra susceptible to this pest as well.
Signs of Eastern Tent Caterpillars
- Rapid defoliation
- Defoliation that spreads easily/quickly to other shrubs & trees
- Silky nests in the crotches of branches (Sometimes referred to as webs or tents)
- Dark-colored caterpillars visible on the tree and in the nests
Damage Caused By Eastern Tent Caterpillars
This caterpillar does damage by feeding on the foliage of trees and shrubs. In high populations, Eastern Tent Caterpillars can easily defoliate an entire tree.
For most healthy trees, Eastern Tent Caterpillars don’t leave much lasting damage. Healthy trees will be able to recover from the infestation and put out a new crop of leaves. However, unhealthy, stressed trees and young trees can develop lasting damage from these caterpillars feeding on their foliage. They may not have enough energy or stored nutrients to replenish their foliage and could succumb to the infestation. If you have a young or stressed tree it may need protection from this insect.
Treatment for Eastern Tent Caterpillars
If you catch the infestation early enough you can usually stop it from getting worse by grabbing the webs and removing them from the tree crotches. If the infestation has progressed far enough that you can not remove all the webs or the webs are too big to remove you may need professional intervention.
Professional treatments often consist of a targeted insecticide to control the Eastern Tent Caterpillar population. Your Arborist will determine the best treatment for your tree based on the tree species, the surrounding landscape, and goals.
Let Us Help!
RTEC can help if you’re dealing with an Eastern Tent Caterpillar infestation on your property but we can also help in preventing an infestation in the first place. If you have a current infestation of Eastern Tent Caterpillars, have susceptible trees on your property, or have had an Eastern Tent Caterpillar infestation in the past give us a call at 703-573-3029 or schedule a consultation online. One of our Certified Arborists will be able to create a customized plan based on your property and your situation to make sure you get the best care for your trees.