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How To Control Tent CaterpillarsThe hairy tent caterpillar

They may be a mesmerizing thing to look at with its colorful exterior but tent caterpillars can make for a rather annoying pest should they embark upon your property. Tent caterpillars are known for their ferocious appetite and can cause some irritating damage to your garden if they venture there. However, plant life isn't the only thing this worm can damage. Tent caterpillars are also known for crawling on cars and damaging the paint job with their feces! If you have an outbreak of these critters on your property or even inside your home, it would be wise to do something about it sooner rather than later. We here at Solutions Pest and Lawn have the expert advice you need as well as the best products for tent caterpillar control. Read on below to learn about this interesting creature.


Tent Caterpillar Background Information

The Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum), also known as the Eastern Tent Caterpillar, hail from the Lasiocampidae family and is a moth larvae native to North America. Tent caterpillars range between 2 to 2.5 inches long and are generally dark colored with an often elaborate bright colored pattern of stripes which run down it’s back.  They are generally dark – mostly black – with a few long, bright colored stripes which run down their back.

These hair and colorful caterpillars hatch out of eggs in the spring, usually from an egg mass of about 150 to 400 eggs. These caterpillars are social, as they stick together once hatching from a mass and weave a white silky tent where they all reside at the crotch of a host tree. Their tent-like nest is where they derive their name.

As the caterpillars grow in size, the tent becomes bigger and more prominent. Once the caterpillars reach maturity, they begin to vacate the tent and wander out without any particular destination. Once the caterpillar finds a suitable area to pupate, it will build a cocoon and after some time will emerge as a moth to find a mate, lay eggs and start the process over again.

Tent caterpillars can inflict a lot of damage during the migration phase when they feed. Tent caterpillars mainly feast upon plants and the leaves of trees. Fortunately, while the feeding damage may look unsightly, it doesn’t cause significant damage which threatens the life of a tree. Photosynthesis may suffer and take longer and tree may have to work harder to grow new leaves to replace those which were lost but more often than not a tree recovers.

Another annoying trait of the tent caterpillar are their droppings and fecal deposits. Caterpillar droppings from the tent caterpillar have been known to make an awful mess on cars, homes and lawn furniture. Being ferocious eaters as we noted earlier, the result is defecation happening quite often. Caterpillar droppings will typically be found under any host plant and can become a significant issue if there is a sizable population in the area.

The worst thing about their droppings is that they are highly acidic. This can be especially annoying when a caterpillar is leaving droppings behind while crawling on a car. The acidic feces will likely eat through a car’s paint job and cause rot, staining or burning.

Ten Caterpillar Prevention Tips

If a colony of tent caterpillars is creating a tent on your property or there is an egg mass on your tree, early prevention is vital.

  • Do your best to remove any egg masses on your tree before they hatch. This can easily be done by hand or by using a stick.

  • The tent caterpillar has a lot of predators that like to go after it so a good way to get rid of a tent caterpillar outbreak is to make your home more welcoming to predators like birds and wasps who will love to take care of those caterpillars for you.


Solutions Recommended Products for Tent Caterpillar Control

There are several effective products to choose from when you are looking to control tent caterpillars. For those who have a tent caterpillar 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 caterpillars arrive.

The strongest spray available for killing tent caterpillars 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.

Feel free to browse our tent caterpillar control products below. If you have any questions regarding control methods or any of the products below, you can chat with us anytime or give us a call. We are always happy to assist you with whatever you need.

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