eastern tent caterpillar

Asked May 17, 2015, 1:20 PM EDT

I think I have these tent caterpillars (3 nests) on same weeping cherry tree. after removing the tents I was going to burn the "tents" . What else can I do to protect my tree from further infestation? Will the leaves return to the branches next year if the infestation has been eliminated? Is it likely that I can actually get rid of these?

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

All of our news is good. Tent caterpillars are not a huge problem, and in fact have evolved with many of our cherry species, so that the damage is minimal, and the pests themselves are great food for other animal species like birds.
No need to burn those tents. You can either put them in a bucket of soapy water and drown them, or stomp them or even just open the nest and allow the birds to eat them. If you do this on the early side of things, you can just break the nest open with a stick or broom and leave it in the tree for the birds.
If it's healthy, the tree will simply push out new leaves. The damage happens early enough in the season that it's just not a problem. The 'torch' method of the past is no longer recommended or needed, and chemical controls (Bt) is rarely needed.
Here is our publication on tent caterpillars: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/default/files/_images/programs/hgic/Publications/HG21_Eastern_Tent_Ca...