Tent Caterpillar Facts & Control

Are tent caterpillars taking over your trees? Are they squeezing the life out of them? Take back control of your trees and prevent further damage. Use Safer® Brand.

This page will inform you about what tent caterpillars look like, how to identify damage, and most of all, how to get rid of them....organically. Safer® Brand Garden Dust powered by B.T. is a great product to eliminate your problem.


So... What's a Tent Caterpillar?

Adult tent caterpillar moths are usually tan or brownish in color with a wingspan reaching up to 1 1/2".

The larvae are black with rows of white dots or stripes the length of its body. They appear to be covered in short hairs and reach up to 2 1/2" in length.

The eggs are laid as a group in a shiny wrapping that surrounds a tree branch or twig. These masses can contain up to 350 eggs.


Reproduction Patterns of Tent Caterpillars

Female moths deposit their eggs in the middle of summer. The eggs overwinter on the branch or twig and hatch in the beginning of spring.

Each emerging caterpillar moves to another branch and begins spinning its own protective silk tent. The caterpillars feed on nearby leaves in the daytime, returning to their nest when finished. They will continue in this manner for the next month or two until they are ready to pupate.

During the next phase of its life cycle, the tent caterpillar will leave the nest and find an appropriate trunk or plant debris on which to spin its own cocoon. You can prevent damage by eliminating the problem with a product such as Safer® Brand Garden Dust powered by B.T.

After 10 days to two weeks, the adults emerge as moths and the cycle continues. The tent caterpillar has one generation per year.


Tent Caterpillar's Habitat

Found throughout the United States and Canada, these caterpillars prefer trees and shrubs of the hardwood deciduous variety, particularly apple, peach, plum, sugar maple, oak, elm, sweetgum, cottonwood, willow, oak, ash and wild cherry.

Widely recognized by their webbed or silk tent structures, these destructive insect pests can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time.


Symptoms of Tent Caterpillar Damage

Leaves may appear to be eaten in places. Some trees may have many leaves which have been eaten. The web structures of the tent caterpillar are an easy way to spot an infestation.

During times when they migrate, many tent caterpillars can be seen crossing over roads and sidewalks in suburban and rural areas. You can prevent an infestation of tent caterpillars by using a product such as Safer® Brand Garden Dust.


Results of a Tent Caterpillar Infestation

Trees may end up being defoliated, especially if the infestation is a large one. In addition, trees may become stunted for a couple of years before growing normally again.


Natural & Organic Controls


Products such as Safer® Brand Garden Dust and Safer® Brand Caterpillar Killer II With B.T. Concentrate are organic products that can be used to help control the tent caterpillar. B.t. (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a safe, effective method of eliminating tent caterpillars from your trees without environmental damage. Insecticides containing pyrethrins can also be an effective method of controlling this pest.


When ingested, B.t. kills tent caterpillars, preventing further damage. When the B.t. is ingested by the caterpillar, it works as a gut rot poison that makes the caterpillar stop feeding. The tent caterpillar will stop feeding immediately and die within days of malnutrition.

Safer® Brand offers a variety of tent caterpillar control products to help combat this garden pest and revive your plants. Please check out our tent caterpillar control products for more details about how they work and how, when, where they should be applied.

Carefully read and follow all directions on the product's label. B.t. is very specific and only works on caterpillars and leaf feeding worms. It will not harm beneficial insects, children, pets or wildlife. It is recommended with any pesticide to test plants for sensitivity to the product. Spray a small section of the plant in an inconspicuous area and wait 24 hours before full coverage.


B.t. is generally applied when it is a cooler time of day, preferably later in the afternoon or early in the evening since the product breaks down in sunlight and heat. Carefully read and follow all directions on the product's label.

When applying pyrethrins to infected plants, carefully read and follow all directions on the product labeling for safe and effective application. Do not spray plants in the peak of the day or when temperatures exceed 90°F

Why Choose a Natural Solution?

Natural solutions break down quickly to their natural elements. They are preferable to chemical pesticides that leave residuals where they are sprayed causing long-term detrimental effects on the environment.


Natural Predators


Parasitic wasps can help control tent caterpillar infestations.


The parasitic wasp lays its eggs on the tent caterpillar and the wasp larvae that hatch will feed inside the tent caterpillar, usually resulting in the death of the host insect.

Safer® Brand brings you a variety of effective insect control products that are gentler on the environment! Most of them proudly display the OMRI Listed® organic seal and comply for use in organic gardening!