The Q&A Archives: Caterpillars On Pine Tree

Question: I am seeing a lot of green caterpillars on my pine tree. They are about 2 inches long. I am not worried about the pine tree, but I don't want them to spread to the rest of my garden. What are these? Will they stay on the pine tree alone?

Answer: There are two caterpillars that feed on pine needles; both are specific to pines so you don't need to worry about them feeding on other plants in your garden. The Pine Butterfly larvae are dark green with two stripes down each side. The Pandora Moth larvae are large, heavy-bodied, and have spines on them. Both caterpillars are susceptible to Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison. These two insects are present in small numbers most of the time but when the populations surge, you'll notice the feeding damage. Generally no control is necessary; the population of natural predators will increase and take care of the problem.

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