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John Fulton

John Fulton
Former County Extension Director

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In The Backyard

Horticulture columns and tips done on a timely basis

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Posted by John Fulton -

I saw my first small tent from the Eastern Tent Caterpillar this weekend. It happened to be on one of their favorite trees – an apple tree. Egg hatch may be running as much as three weeks later than normal. Of course, with the crazy "spring" we've had, the insects are probably somewhat disoriented as well.

After hatching, the caterpillars create a white, silken tent in the branch crotches of crabapple, hawthorn, mountain ash, flowering cherry, and other trees and shrubs in the rose family. Eastern tent caterpillar is one of the earliest defoliators. The feeding damage does not kill the tree, but it does use some of the stored energy of the tree.

Control at this time can be accomplished by removing the tents, and the caterpillars inside, and taking a long way from the tree to dispose of. When caught early, the caterpillars tend to stay in the nest. As they grow, they will not be in the nest as much. Control with sprays of B.t., acephate, permethrin, carbaryl, etc. will also work.

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