Eastern Tent Catepillar

Malacosoma americanum

Native to North America, the eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, is a defoliating caterpillar that has been reported as early as 1646. Up until the 1970’s and 1980’s the eastern tent caterpillar had been considered one of the most common and destructive defoliating insects in the eastern United States. In late spring and early summer, the eastern tent caterpillar creates an unsightly nest or tent in the crotch of branches. The feeding of the larvae in late spring and early summer strips the foliage from trees. Complete defoliation can occur when caterpillar populations are high. The larvae can become messy as they crawl on sidewalks, patios, and driveways where they become squashed.

Trees at Risk

Common hosts of the Eastern tent caterpillar include Prunus species such as cherry, plum, and peach, as well as flowering crabapple (Malus), hawthorn (Craetagus), and pear (Pyrus).  Other hosts include maple (Acer), ash (Fraxinus), birch (Betula), oak (Quercus), willow (Salix), and poplar (Populus).

 

 

Treatment Strategy

Feeding from Eastern tent caterpillar larvae in late spring and early summer can completely defoliate foliage from trees. Healthy trees can tolerate a single defoliation event, however, multiple defoliation events can cause dieback and when combined with abiotic stress events. The Eastern tent caterpillar is easy to control if treatment applications are timed correctly in the spring of the year.

Other Treatment Practices

  • Prune out the nests after they have formed. Early morning or late afternoon is a good time to do this as most of the caterpillars will be in the nest.
  • Promote health and vigor with proper irrigation, mulching, proper pruning and prescription based fertilization practices.
  • Use Lepitect Infusible on trees that cannot be sprayed or treated with soil applications

Products

Lepitect

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