The Richmond Register

May 13, 2014

Tent caterpillars are on the crawl

By Amanda Sears
Extension Agent

RICHMOND — You may have noticed the ugly webbing nestled in the base of branches against the trunks of trees. It is a sure sign the Eastern Tent Caterpillars (ETC) have emerged.

This caterpillar eats the leaves off of trees, especially on wild cherry, apple and crabapple, although it can also be found on hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear and plum as well.

The ETC overwinters as an egg sac on the branches of trees. They begin to hatch at bud break in early March.

The caterpillar is hairy and black with white stripes down their backs and brown and yellow lines along their sides. The adult moth is reddish-brown with two pale stripes running diagonally across each front wing.

The ETC are social insects and congregate together in a silken tent they spin in the crotch of the tree. The caterpillars feed mostly in the morning or at night, defoliating the tree that holds their silk nest.

As the caterpillars grow, so does the nest.

The easiest way to control this insect is to get rid of its nest. If the webbing is low enough, just clean it out by hand. The caterpillars will not hurt you if you do this bare handed, however if you feel squeamish about it, put a plastic bag over your hand and rake out the nest. After removing the webbing, destroy it.

As the nest grows, so does the difficulty of control. If the nest is large, you may need to have to prune it out of the tree. Often people will attempt to burn the nest while it is in the tree. This is not recommended since it will damage the tree.


Garden Party Cooking School

Saturday, May 31; craft sale 9 a.m.; cooking school 10 a.m.

You’re invited to a Garden Party! Guest Chef, Alison David from Wild Thyme in Lexington will be preparing local fresh foods in a delicious new way! This cooking school will be conducted on Saturday, May 31, and will begin at 10 a.m. A craft sale will begin the same morning at 9 a.m.

Tickets are $8 for Extension Homemaker Members and $10 for nonmembers. Seating is limited, no tickets will be sold at the door. For more details, call 623-4072.

Proceeds from this event will be donated to the University of Kentucky Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.


Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.