The Q&A Archives: Tent Worms

Question: What is the best way to get rid of tent worms?

Answer: There are several ways to control tent caterpillars.
Strategy 1: Mechanical Control - Destroy Egg Masses and Nests - The egg masses are easy to spot after the leaves have dropped in the fall. Simply clip off and crush or dispose. If egg masses were undetected, there is ample time to hand remove any nests in the spring. It is suggested that a glove be used as the caterpillar hairs are irritating to some people. Simply scrape the nest off onto the ground and crush the caterpillars or drop them into a pan of soapy water. Early morning or late afternoon is best because most of the caterpillars will be in the tent.

Strategy 2: Biological Control - Use Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) - Most commercial Bt products for caterpillar control will work on the tent caterpillars. Make applications to the plant foliage while the larvae are small. Numerous predators and parasites also attack this pest but in some years these agents do not arrive in sufficient numbers to adequately control tent caterpillars.

Strategy 3: Chemical Control - Insecticide Sprays - Most contact and stomach insecticides rapidly control this pest. Direct sprays to the plant foliage and nest. The larvae are usually easy to contact if spraying is done in late morning when the larvae congregate on the tent surface to warm in the sun. You can use sprays such as Bug-B-Gone, or one containing carbaryl. Be sure to read the label so you'll know that it is effective against tent caterpillars. Apply according to label direcitons.

Good luck with your project!

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