Tent Caterpillars

Tent Caterpillars Information

By Ronnie Dauber, Garden Guides Contributor

About Tent Caterpillars

Tent caterpillars get their name because they spin unsightly webs of white silky matter on the tips of shrubs and tree branches in the early spring that resemble tents. These tents protect them from predators and from the heat of the day as they feast on the leafy substance around them during the day. They are three inches long and display a yellow checkered pattern with a blue line down their backs.

Prevention and Control

The easiest method would be to hand-strip the very visible grayish-brown egg masses during the winter and destroy them before they can hatch.

Affected Plants

Tent caterpillars thrive in bushes, dense tree branches and shrubs.


If left alone, the tent caterpillars can totally defoliate any bush or plant. A healthy plant could survive this ordeal, but in general, most plants become stunted and deformed due to the continue loss of growth ability.

Predator Insects

Natural predators include many garden birds, wasps and ground beetles.

Natural Insecticides

Household ammonia, diluted with water and sprayed directly onto the pests, will destroy them immediately.

Other Methods of Control

Once the tent caterpillars have been spotted on the plants, it is best to hand-pick them and destroy them on contact. Chemical solutions are not recommended as this method can also hurt and damage other wildlife insects or birds.

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