Have you seen the caterpillars?

Even while driving the car in the North Georgia mountains you may have noticed what appears to be cob webs in the trees. These webs aren’t produced by spiders but by tent caterpillars. Tent caterpillar populations tend to fluctuate from year to year with outbreaks occurring every several years.

The fact that they can severely damage trees, build unsightly silken nests in trees, and not to mention crawling all over plants, walkways, and roads cause this insect to be a pest in the late spring and early summer. In Georgia there are two types of tent caterpillars the Eastern tent caterpillar and the Forest tent caterpillar. Eastern tent caterpillar nests are commonly found on wild cherry, apple, and crabapple, but may be found on hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear and plum as well. Forest tent caterpillar nests are commonly found on a variety of plants but they prefer oak, blackgum, sweetgum and other deciduous trees.

While tent caterpillars can nearly kill a tree when numerous, the tree will usually recover and put out new leaves. However, when it comes to your landscape nests can become an eyesore, particularly when exposed by excessive defoliation. The silken nests are built in the crotches of limbs and can become quite large. Larvae also causes considerable concern when they begin to wander to protected places to pupate. They are frequently seen crawling on other types of plants, walkways, and buildings. They are a nuisance and can create quite a mess when they are squashed on driveways, sidewalks, and patios. Keep in mind though that no additional damage is done by the wandering caterpillars.

Natural enemies play an important role in reducing tent caterpillar numbers. Caterpillars are frequently parasitized by various tiny braconid, ichneumon, and chalcid wasps. Several predators and a few diseases also help to regulate their populations. This also accounts for the fluctuating population levels from year to year. Prevention and early control is important. Removal and destruction of the eggs from trees during winter greatly reduces the problem next spring. In the early spring small tents can be removed and destroyed by hand. Larger tents may be pruned out and destroyed or removed by winding the nest upon the end of a stick. Burning the tents out with a torch is not recommended since this can easily damage the tree and set fire to your yard. Young caterpillars may also be killed by applying an insecticide once they are out of the nests.

If you have tent caterpillar concerns contact Complete Home Services for a consultation.

Complete Home Services, located in the North Georgia Mountains provides Housecleaning, Window washing, Gutter Cleaning, Yard Services and Landscaping in Union County Georgia, Fannin County Georgia and Towns County Georgia. For your Home Maintenance needs visit our Complete Home Services website at www.CompleteHomeServicesUSA.com

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