There are many species of tent caterpillars or lappet moth, but three are relatively common in BC, the Northern tent caterpillar, Eastern tent caterpillar and Western tent caterpillar. Although the life cycles of these three species is similar, the caterpillars feed on different trees of concern.
The preferred host trees of the Northern tent caterpillar include apple and other fruit trees, choke cherries, pin cherries, plum, black cottonwood and willows. Eastern tent caterpillars prefer to feed on cherry, apple and crab apple trees. The Western species likes apple and cherry trees as well as willows, poplar trees and oak. The telltale sign you may have a problem, are the tents, or webs containing small black, newly hatched caterpillars. As the caterpillars grow, they eat the leaves and trees often become stripped of foliage by mid June or July. Significant damage to trees only occurs if there are prolonged infestations, as the trees usually re-foliate in mid-summer. Trees that are weakened by infestations are prone to fungi infections and further damage caused by seasonal stresses like drought and frost.
Tent Caterpillar Management
Tent caterpillars are native to North America, so we have insect parasites and natural predators like ground beetles and parasitic wasps, birds and some rodents to deal with them. If they’re invading your fruit trees or infesting your back yard, you can remove the webbed branches and burn them in an appropriate barrel burner, making sure to check your municipal regulations before lighting it. You can use a pesticide, but beware before applying any pesticide, as there can be serious side effects of misuse. If you choose to use a pesticide, t’s best to open the tent, and spray it in the evening when the caterpillars have returned to nest. Dormant oils can be used on fruit trees to control overwintering eggs and other insects, but oils can cause damage to your trees if misapplied.
If you suspect a pest problem with your trees, call us for an on-site assessment and solutions before an out-of-control infestation occurs, causing damage to existing trees and fruit crops.
Locations & Service Areas
We are a team of certified arborists providing tree and professional landscaping services to the Thompson-Okanagan and Shuswap regions of BC. We offer an extensive list of arborist services throughout these regions and extend discounts to seniors and repeat customers. As a family-owned business, we care about the communities we serve throughout BC.
For Professional tree and landscaping services in Kamloops, call our main office at 1-888-778-3230 or 778-362-3230.
If you are looking for landscaping and tree services in Vernon or other North Okanagan locations, call 250-241-1704.
For tree care and landscaping in Kelowna, call 250-801-8405. For information on our fruit tree pruning and spraying services, see our Fruit Trees page.