How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars

Last Updated on August 29, 2022

You might be fed up with the attack of caterpillars. It is supposed to happen. Caterpillars of various species exist like the forest tent caterpillars, eastern tent caterpillars and western tent caterpillars. They are known as Malacosoma disstria, Malacosoma americanum and Malacosoma californicum respectively.

In general, caterpillars of all species are the same in their life-cycle. They used to live inside the protective silken tents. They attack the shrubs and broadleaf, turn the foliage to look unsightly. As a result, the defoliation of plants happens.

Whatever, in this article, I will be talking about the ways how you can get rid of tent caterpillars. If you are looking for the same information, then spend here a few minutes. It will help you a lot.

Tent Caterpillars – How do I Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars?

Removing Caterpillars

The caterpillars produce a single generation in a year. They lay eggs once a year in the winter. This is how they increase their number. So, it is easier to stop their production during winter. You will find the masses which are a bit dark foamy and comes either in a encircle twig or approximately one inch long. In this case, you can shave off the egg or simply prune off the affected foliage. For this, you can use a dull knife. You can do it using your fingernails. It is not recommended though.

However, your pruning out tents will work great on removing the caterpillars. But, you have to wait till evening or early morning when the pests used to stay inside and not feed out. Between each pruning, you have to disinfect your pruning tools once pruning is done. You can go through the disinfection process by using a solution of 9 parts water and 1 part bleaching powder.

After that, you can wash the tent by dropping it inside a container filled with soapy water. You can crush your tent using your underfoot. You should use strong steam of water to make the pests out.

Attracting Natural Predators

Well, attracting natural predators is also a good idea. Basically, there are lots of predators for the tent calipers like birds, parasitic flies and parasitic wasps. For that, you have to hang the bird feeders or birdhouses for attracting feathered friends from the trees infested by the caterpillars.

You have to keep the birdbaths close and filled with fresh water. You can also plant herbs and flowers for attracting natural insect predators. The name of the help insect-attracting annuals is borage, dill, basil and baby’s breath.

Spraying with Btk

Well, your tree that is large or has several tents may need a spray treatment in order to get rid of caterpillars. You may get an insecticide name Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki. It contains bacteria which is soil-born. It works on killing the selected caterpillars. It does not make any effect on humans, birds, pets or any other helpful insects. To know about the use of this insecticide, you have to go through the manual that comes with it.

Without it, you have to use the spray that is run by hand and cover all the foliage surfaces. You can spray Btk once a week until you can’t see the caterpillars feeding on the leaves of your plants. It works great where there are small caterpillars. So, you have to use the Btk spray as early as possible once you see the new tent caterpillars.

In addition, make sure that you are using the Btk in the evening or early morning. Because they stay inside the tent during this time. However, while spraying the Btk spray, you should use waterproof gloves, goggles and protective cloths although it is told nontoxic. Make sure that there is no possibility of raining after 24 hours of spraying.

Other Things to Consider

You should ignore the broad-spectrum pesticide for treating the tent caterpillars.  Although the consecutive insecticide offers a good result, it has a bad effect. It kills the useful insects along with the tent caterpillars.

It is not recommended to kill any caterpillars on the spot with eggs or white cocoons on their back. They will hosts the parasitic insects and will take care of the larvae pests for you. You should use hand gloves always while handling the tent caterpillars.

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Author: Euell Gibbons

Outdoorsman and proponent of natural diets. He loves camping, hiking and exploring the great outdoors. Camping is a way of life for him - as soon as he can get away from work, he's out there!

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