Tent worms/caterpillars have appeared on several branches of our Kwanzan cherry tree. 1.Should I cut the affected branches off? 2.Is there anything I can do to control and/or stop the spreading? We've noticed several trees in our neighborhood have them also. As always, your help is greatly appreciated!
Baltimore County Maryland
You are seeing the webs of fall webworms (tent caterpillars only live in the spring). It is a native caterpillar and, though it eats some foliage, it does so late in the growing season when the trees have already had plenty of time to produce and store carbs. They are not a danger to trees (except possibly a tiny sampling). Many birds rely on them for food, so they serve a purpose.
Before cutting the webs off a tree, be sure you are not removing so much tree that you're weakening your tree. Instead, you might want to break up the web with a long pole to let birds get at the caterpillars. Or knock down the web. It's really a matter of aesthetics. Here is info from our website: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/fall-webworm-trees