Tent Caterpillars Information
By Ronnie Dauber, Garden Guides Contributor
About Tent CaterpillarsTent 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 PlantsTent caterpillars thrive in bushes, dense tree branches and shrubs.
DamageIf 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 InsectsNatural 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 ControlOnce 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.