There are many proven ways on how to get rid of tent caterpillars. Tent caterpillars have many nests with huge appetites which are capable of defoliating trees, shrubs, and other ornamental plants on your property.
If you’re noticing foliage wrapped in large unattractive web masses then you could be dealing with tent caterpillars emerging in spring.
These hairy caterpillars won’t just damage your foliage but large populations and migrations will see them crawling on cars damaging spray with droppings and even infesting indoor spaces.
However, in this article, you’ll learn ways to identify them and how to get rid of tent caterpillars on your property. So you can keep your trees and foliage safe throughout the season. Moreover, do you know what a tent caterpillar is? Let’s find out!
What is a Tent Caterpillar?
Tent caterpillars are small pests, typically growing between 2 and 2½ inches long. You’ll usually spot them in clusters hanging on too thick webbing found on trees near where branches fork.
They are typically hairy and dark-colored with a pattern of lines running down the length of their bodies. The pattern may include white markings depending on the species, some have a solid white line that goes from end to end, the some feature a dashed white line.
Some feature keyhole shapes and some do not feature white markings at all. When tent caterpillars mature, they will pupate into adult moths. The monster is brown with two diagonal lines or a brown band running across each of the wings.
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How to Identify a Tent Caterpillar
The first thing you should do in any pest control plan is to identify what exactly you’re dealing with. Careless identification can lead to wrong treatment methods, costing you time and money.
When identifying a tent caterpillar, the first you need to do is:
- Check around your property to confirm their presence or find hot spots of activity.
- Tent caterpillars typically target broadleaf trees, shrubs, and fruit trees like the cherry, sage plum, apple, and grape.
- Once they defoliate infested branches, they can spread to other nearby foliage.
- Be on the lookout for a large tent like webs, clusters, and the tent caterpillars themselves. Depending on the species.
- You’ll find either one large tent on infested site or a cluster of smaller tents close together in older infestations.
- You may find the caterpillars will move and establish a new tense after defoliating all the leaves around the old tents.
- Tent caterpillars are active during the day making them easy to spot.
- Tent caterpillars will hang onto their tents or consume nearby foliage at night.
- The caterpillars will hide within their tents, mature tent caterpillars may stray further away from their home tense as they search for a safe place to pupate.
- The adult moths will rarely be seen as they live only for a few days to mate and lay eggs.
Picture of a Tent Caterpillar
Where Do I Find Tent Caterpillar?
After identifying your pests, you are to inspect for tent caterpillar activity on your property. They are possible places you can find this bug.
- First, check around tree branches, shrubs, and fruit plants.
- Inspect twigs as they could possibly be found there.
- Check for their nest on apples, cherries, pear, plum, maple, and hawthorn.
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How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars
Getting rid of tent caterpillars naturally or with insecticides and sprays are two approaches to getting rid of tent caterpillars. We’ll go over these two options and see which one works best for you.
How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars Naturally
Below are effective steps on how to get rid of tent caterpillars naturally:
- Before the larvae begin to feed, remove and discard the overwintering egg masses and tear the protective tents by hand.
- With Sticky Tree Bands or Tree Tanglefoot Pest Barrier, restrict caterpillar movement and cut off their feeding sites.
- Bacillus thuringiensis, a naturally occurring soil-dwelling bacteria, is highly efficient against all kinds of tent caterpillars.
- Using spinosad, it is a biological chemical generated from fermentation, is likewise highly successful in the control of tent caterpillar populations.
- Use neem oil to alleviate the itching. Insect growth and development are disrupted by this powerful essential oil, which possesses repellant and antifeedant qualities.
How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars Using Insecticides
Below are effective steps on how to get rid of tent caterpillars using insecticides and spray:
Note: Be sure to wear your personal protective equipment, and remember to keep all people and pets off the treated areas until dry. Do not apply this insecticide ‘Supreme IT’ to any plants for consumption.
Wait, until treated plants are completely dry before any irrigation can occur and allowing children, people, or pets to come into contact with labeled pests that come in contact with the spray or the visual will have their nervous systems impacted and will eventually die within several hours.
In order to get rid of tent caterpillars on your property. You will need to combine regular pruning with a residual insecticide application.
- First, prune away any of the infested twigs, branches, and limbs you found during your inspection.
- Prune just a few branches, since pruning more may make your plan very stressful.
- If you’re dealing with a heavy infestation and wish to avoid over-pruning, you can scrape away tent caterpillar webs, and eggs with a scraping tool.
- Once you’ve gotten rid of any visible pests and cleared away all webs, you can apply a residual insecticide like Supreme IT.
- Supreme IT is a bifenthrin-based liquid insecticide concentrate, that is labeled to treat over 70 different pests including tent caterpillars.
- When applied, Supreme IT will leave a residual chemical barrier that will control pests for up to 90 days after application.
- This Product is a liquid concentrate. So it will need to be mixed with water before application.
- We recommend you use a handheld pump sprayer to make mixing and application quick and easy.
- Before you mix your pesticide, measure your treatment area square footage by multiplying the area’s length by its wavelength.
- You’ll use this number to figure out how much product you’ll be applying for tent caterpillars.
- With Supreme IT, you’ll need to apply the products labeled rate of 0.125 to 0.25 fluid ounces of products per 1,000 square feet of the treatment area.
- Use the higher rate for heavy investigations. We recommend you mix one gallon of finished solution for every 1,000 square feet of the treatment area.
- Once your solution is evenly mixed, spray the tops and bottoms of foliage to the point of wet, but not run off.
How to Prevent Tent Caterpillars
Even if you’ve used pesticides, prevention is crucial to keeping pests under control. The best approach to prevent tent caterpillar activity is to ensure that it cannot return.
- Prevention starts with regular monitoring for any re-emergence of tent caterpillars.
- Remove any eggs or pests assuming fruits, and know where you found them.
- If a whole season has passed, you may prune away infested parts.
- Ensure not to over-prune your plants.
- Water your ornamentals regularly with an inch of irrigation. Not more than once a week.
- Regular watering help strengthen your plants, helping them to fight off and recover from pest damage.
- You may also be able to wash away webs eggs pests and stop reading activity altogether.
- Finally. you’ll need to keep up and regular applications of either natural or chemical steps to get rid of tent caterpillars in order to maintain year-round control.
Understanding how to get rid of tent caterpillars yourself will save the cost of hiring a pest control service. So we recommend you make applications quarterly, tent caterpillar infestations can quickly devour entire plants.
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