A sure sign of spring: Eastern tent caterpillar

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.    

Tents in the crotches of tree branches are now 3 to 10 inches long and full of caterpillars during the day in southern Michigan. Most of the caterpillar feeding occurs at night.

Feeding damage can be stopped by removing the tents when the caterpillars are inside and burying them or by spraying Bt, Conserve, Dimilin or another insecticide.

Some of the smaller ornamental Prunus trees and an occasional crabapple may be defoliated from tent caterpillar feeding. Small wild cherry trees along roadsides may also be defoliated. With good soil moisture, defoliated trees will put out a new set of leaves after the tent caterpillars are gone.

Dr. Smitley's work is funded in part by MSU's AgBioResearch.

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