UW Extension offers some advice on eastern tent caterpillars

Are you seeing eastern tent caterpillars in your Western Kenosha County trees?  Barb Larson, Kenosha County UW Extension horticulture educator, said she has been getting  some calls about the critters. She offered the following information:

Eastern tent caterpillars are a very common native insect. They feed on cherry, chokecherry, crabapple and others. They can defoliate the tree but, because it is early in the growing season, the tree will re-leaf. Tent caterpillars do not cause long term damage or kill trees.

Barb Larson, Kenosha County UW-Extension horticulture educator recommends getting rid of them by wiping them out of the tree. Around dusk (after they return to the tent) or on a cloudy, rainy day (when they stay in the tent), take a big stick or old broom and physically remove the tent and caterpillars from the tree. Drop everything in a bucket of soapy water to kill them quickly or squish them by stepping on them.

There are several insecticide options but physically removing the insects works great and you don’t need to worry about sprays. Never burn a tent when it is in a tree. Burning harms the tree much more than caterpillar feeding.

This is a link to a UW-Extension publication on Eastern Tent Caterpillars if you need more information.

If you have other gardening/horticulture questions, specially trained Master Gardener volunteers are available Monday, Wednesday, Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon at 857-1942 or by email anytime at  MasterGardeners@co.kenosha.wi.us. The Master Gardeners also have an information booth at HarborMarket in downtown Kenosha beginning May 22.


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