The Q&A Archives: Bug Larvae on Trees

Question: We are plagued with a bug that looks like it is in its larvae stage. It looks like a snail with mud for its shell. We find it on trees, fencing, wood and just about everywhere else on our property. It attaches to tree trunks and branches. When we remove them there is a cottony residue left where they attached themselves. It is the size of a pencil eraser. Can you tell us what this is and how to irradicate it?

Answer: If it's long and looks puffy like styrofoam, it's probably Tent Caterpillar. If it's round or oval, it might be Oystershell Scale. Tent Caterpillars lay egg masses and cover them with a protective layer that's well cemented down. Scale insects attach themselves to a host and remain in place until they die. The females protect their offspring under their shell and when they're mature enough to feed on their own, they march up and down the limb, fence rail or trunk, looking for a likely place to attach themselves. Adult scales can be squished in place or picked off. They can also be suffocated with an application of horticultural oil (generally sprayed in late winter on dormant trees and shrubs). The Tent Caterpillar egg masses can be picked off and destroyed. Hope we've identified the problem for you!

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