Tent Caterpillar

The Tent Caterpillar is an American tree pest that typically nests in apple, cherry, and other landscape trees in early spring.  The nest appears as an unsightly silk tent, usually found in the crotch of trees.  The caterpillars feed on the tree foliage causing leaf death and general defoliation proportional to the degree of infestation.

Tent caterpillars hatch from eggs in early spring and construct a multi-layered silk nest in a location likely to get early sun.  Studies show that morning sun is required by the caterpillars to maintain critical body temperature during the cooler early spring months.  This temperature is required to digest the foliage.

The caterpillars grow rapidly with feeding and upon maturity, leave the tree to pupate.  Upon emerging as moth adults, mating take place followed by egg-laying occurs around the circumference of a branch.  The eggs are covered in a frothy material that prevents the eggs from drying out.  The eggs overwinter and hatch in the spring, restarting the life-cycle.

Tent Caterpillars typically arrive in outbreak form, often laying dormant for years until an outbreak occurs.  These outbreaks can defoliate thousands of trees at a time.  While a single outbreak may weaken a tree, making it more susceptible to stress; repeated outbreaks threaten to kill even health tree.

Walker Tree Care has a plant healthcare department that is trained and equipped to deal with infestation and prevention of Tent Caterpillars.