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Tree Caterpillars Feed But Rarely Kill

July 27th, 2015

Tree Caterpillars Feed But Rarely Kill

They take over the vertices or “crotches” of trees, nesting and spinning large webs in the summer.  Caterpillars breed by the thousands in their protective spun home, and are spinning temporary homes in trees across the south this summer.

Tent caterpillars, one of the more common species that create a cocoon-like web, are more of a nuisance than a genuine threat to the tree.   They will defoliate by eating the nearby leaves, but their main purpose is to provide a safe home for their young.

The web itself – also spun by the common webworm – is a skillfully crafted structured designed to hold a host of young while keeping temperatures and sunlight just right.  The nearly opaque web is able to regulate sunlight and heat in such a way as to foster molting and metamorphosis.

To minimize infestations of these creatures, a variety of techniques can be used.  Tree branches can be pruned, and the webs removed. Using water to simply expel the web also works. For younger trees, spraying is appropriate if there is an extensive infestation – but remember to keep the amount applied under control and read cautionary directions and following them carefully.

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