The Garden Pest Files: Tent Caterpillar

Since I've been doing posts on trees this past week for Arbor Day (April 25th) I thought I would take a second to talk about one threat to your trees, tent caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum). They are quite common in Tennessee and many other areas of the country. Watch out for these little caterpillars on your hardwood trees. Once they form a nest they can do significant damage to your tree. They will quickly defoliate your tree and are an eyesore to say the least! Your trees can and will recover in most cases once the infestation is removed.

They are commonly found on cherries, apples, maples, peaches, pears, plums and several other trees. In these pictures the caterpillars are on a Yoshino Cherry. To have one of my favorite trees attacked like this was not fun sight to see.

According to the University of Kentucky Entomology Department you can treat them with insecticides that contain Bacillus thuringiensis var kurstaki. You could also use insecticides with carbaryl, methoxychlor, and malathion.

One method they recommend is to take a large stick poke the nest and twist. Most of the nest should pull apart and wind up on your stick like cotton candy! Other than that prevention is the best method. Take the eggs off the trees during the winter months or remove the nests as soon as you spot them.