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How to Get Rid of Tent Worms


One of the most annoying things to have in your well-maintained garden is pests that wipe out your plants rather than do any good for your soil. So, rabbits, groundhogs, voles, squirrels and rabbits eat your plants.

Do you know what else is destructive for your garden?

Tent worms!

Not only are they repulsive to look at, they can wipe out your leaves and affect the health of your garden or trees if not controlled. If they are infesting your trees and eating away your leaves, it’s necessary to get rid of them. It is a nuisance to have them consuming your hard-grown flowers and vegetables.   

How to identify tent worms

Tent worms are also known as tent caterpillars that build tents in trees. They are usually found in brown colors. They get active after hatching in spring and begin building tents in locations that receive adequate sunlight. Caterpillars need to keep their tents warm enough because if the temperatures fall below 15 degrees Celsius, they cannot digest food properly. At midday, when temperatures soar above the required temperature, tent caterpillars return to shaded, cool areas until the tents cool down.

They need to feed on leaves several times a day for their larval development and before the leaves turn old. After feeding, they need to go in direct sunlight for digestion process. It is easy for them trace their way back to the tent because they leave trails while moving along trees. The trail also signals to other caterpillar about where they can find food. Ultimately, this extensive feeding causes defoliation of trees.

It takes caterpillars nearly eight weeks to become full-grown moths. If caterpillars take over an area in large numbers, they can potentially defoliate acres of lands. They may continue feeding on vegetation for three years until vegetation is wiped out. When they are unable to feed on vegetation following destruction, they die. The defoliated trees may recover after the outbreak or they may die after repeated defoliation.

Tent works are found with stripes and short hair on their bodies. They usually grow to about 2.5 inches. Different species are found throughout the United States; therefore, if you’re having this issue, there are likely others in your neighborhood facing the same issue.

You can tell by the signs that your plants are infested by tent worms, which include: disappearance of leaves, nests and tents because they become more visible when leaves are wiped out and trails that they leave behind to move from shelter to feeding source and back. Here’s how you can control the infestation:

Clean-sweep the outdoors

Keep your outdoors clean. Mow the lawn and remove piles of debris, including logs, branches and dead leaves. Get appropriate equipments to clean the trees as well. This would help destroy the nests or tents and drive away the caterpillars.

Use soap water

Pour soap water in the affected areas to drive them away or kill the nests and caterpillars. You could include black pepper powder, red chili powder, vinegar and washing detergents in the mixture and use them every few days. They may get washed off due to stray animals, wind, rain or while watering the garden. In that case, continue using the soap water solution. Either pour it on the tents or use it as a spray. This comes in handy when you don’t want to use pesticides to harm the beneficial insects and plants.

Use a stick

When you spot a tent, you could use a long stick to poke the worms inside and drive them out. Use a fallen branch or broom stick to poke inside the tents. Poke and keep rotating to drive them out. Do this at a time when they are in their nests rather than when they feeding – that is at dawn or dusk.

Use insect glue as bait  

Get insect glue from a local pharmacy and apply to the affected areas on trees. This glue never dries; thus, when the caterpillars walk over it, they’ll get stuck. This can also help you stop insects from accessing your plants.

Get garden dust

Garden dust has been effective especially for those who avoid insecticides and prefer organic gardening. You can apply dust on the tents, trails and other areas after careful observation. It would have to be applied again as it could get washed off. Apply it on plants and the caterpillars die within 10 days after consuming the plants. Repeat the process every week to prevent others for settling in your garden.

Therefore, whenever you happen to spot an army of caterpillars, don’t neglect the infestation. For a start, use the milder to get rid of them, such as poking sticks every few days or treating the affected areas with soap water. Repeat and rotate the steps and if they still keep coming, move on to insecticides and dust to treat the area before the defoliate your garden. Furthermore, observe their behavior carefully. Remove or destroy their eggs to prevent problems next spring. DON’T attempt to treat the area by burning them. This could not only damage the tree but may spread and could be dangerous to other plants and humans as well.

Eliminate Tent Worms With Solutions Pest & Lawn Products

Solutions Pest & Lawn has several effective products to choose from when you are looking to control tent worms. For those who have a tent worm problem in their garden and are worried about harming their plants with chemicals, we recommend Essentria IC3 Natural Pesticide. This spray contains natural ingredients and can be sprayed on any plant, vegetable or fruit without posing a hazard. Essentria can also be a good preventive spray to use – especially if you are treating before the worms arrive.

The strongest spray available for killing tent worms immediately is Bifen XTS. While this insecticide should not be used on food crops, its excellent for any tree, shrub or even indoors. It has a very low odor and will both kill quickly and has a great residual effect.

A few other solid options are dusts like Pyganic Dust and another liquid pesticide, Vector Ban Plus Permethrin Insecticide.


By following the tips and equipping yourself with the products we’ve outlined above, tent worms will no longer be an issue for you. For more helpful pest control advice, live chat with us on our website, call us via phone at 800-479-6583 or email us at askapro@solutionsstores.com.


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