Tree Insects - Eastern Tent Caterpillars
The gregarious caterpillars hatch in the early spring about the time tree buds start to open, and soon they begin to spin their silken tents in the branch forks.
Egg cases can be easily seen on twigs in the Fall prior to Spring hatch.
The tent protects them from predators, such as birds, and from temperature extremes. Enlarging the tent as they grown, the caterpillars leave only to feed, usually at night.
The eastern tent caterpillar is found most often on apple and wild or ornamental cherry, and occasionally on pecan, hawthorne, beech and willow. When abundant, caterpillars will eat all the leaves, weakening, though seldom killing a tree.
Leaf-feeding can be prevented on small trees by destroying tents with a stick or pole, exposing the caterpillars to birds. Another preventive method is to prune the egg masses from twigs before the early spring hatch.
This caterpillar is often confused with Gypsy Moth Larva. Note the white line down the spine is solid. Eastern Tents are rarely heavy defoliators. They maybe on the host trees where their tent is located. Eastern Tent caterpillars were in out break populations in 2006 and 2007. The only other recorded out break was in 1920. Contact sprays can be made on the tents in early Spring to control.