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Tent Worms are Invading! Will They Harm Your Trees?

It’s that time of year when pests of all sorts show up to feed on our landscape plants and trees. This year, with the heavy rains and mild temperatures, they seem to be out in force. Forest tent caterpillars are practically blanketing the DFW area right now. We’re finding them everywhere! If you’ve found these pests in your landscape, read on to learn more...

Caterpillar

What are Tent Caterpillars?

Forest tent caterpillars, Malacosoma disstria, are the most common of the tent worms that are present in spring. They feed on your tree’s new foliage and they can defoliate your trees if they are present in large numbers. Defoliation can stunt growth and vigor of your tree and damage trees already under stress.

Forest tent caterpillars build tightly woven mats of web on branches or the trunk of the tree where many larvae cluster together; afterwards, they leave the web to feed on new leaves. The moth they morph into are buff colored and have a 1- to 1 1/2- inch wide wingspan. The mature moths lay eggs on your trees in late summer and fall, then they hatch the following spring. The new caterpillars start the process of munching on your trees all over again.

Tent-Caterpillars

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Colonies of tent caterpillars stay clustered together and move about along a trail left behind by their leader.

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They’re in Your Trees! What to Do?

Because tent caterpillars feed in large groups, they can quickly destroy large sections of your tree’s canopy. There are natural methods we can use to control infestations of tent caterpillars and webworms of all kinds. If we can identify an infestation in a timely fashion, we can use a non-toxic plan of installing a biological control. Populations of tent caterpillars can also be treated with Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), bacterium that is deadly to the caterpillars but harmless to birds, fish, pets and people. Large trees will require special equipment in order to apply the treatment high in the canopy.

For more information on tent caterpillars, visit our blog post here. If you suspect your tree has a caterpillar infestation that is out of control, give us a call for an inspection!


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Posted: April 30, 2015