Tent Caterpillar Prevention

With the warmer late winter temps now is a great time to help reduce the chances of tent caterpillar masses on your fruit trees this spring. Crabapples, plums and cherries are often defoliated by these insects in late spring. But a little pruning away of the egg masses now can avoid the need to spray later.

The microscopic eggs were laid last summer, but now should be pretty easy to find on the bare, smaller twigs. The masses will be about a 1/4 inch long near the tips of the branches. They encircle the twig and look like small pieces of melted glass. You may find older egg masses that are grey with small holes, you can leave those alone.

Prune off the twigs with the masses with a sharp shears back to a branch union. Never in the middle of a twig. Go back to were there is a ‘Y’ of twigs and carefully prune there just outside the small bulge of the ‘Y’. Afterwards, throw the twigs in the garbage, burn or crush the egg masses. If left on the ground, the larvae will still hatch and just crawl back up the nearest tree (thus wasting your time, and nobody likes doing that).

There are usually only a few of these masses on the smaller commonly infested trees, so it isn’t a huge chore. But it sure is easier to do it now than trying to deal with the masses and damaged tree in the spring. Also, be aware that once the webs of caterpillars appear in the the spring, its too late to spray or be effective at controlling them. So now is the time.

We specialize in caring for sick or diseased trees in Sioux Falls. Like most tree problems the best medicine is prevention. Sometimes its the only way! Give us a call today 605.759.6020 or learn more on our website www.aspenarbo.com.