The tent caterpillar is here in Seattle

The tent caterpillars may not have been invited for dinner, but the fuzzy fellows are here in Seattle and they will soon be setting up their tents.

tent caterpillar in Seattle areaTent caterpillars usually have a period of 1-4 years when they congregate in abundance and have a little family reunion in our Pacific Northwest before they die back to a manageable level. This is the year. They must like what is being served for dinner because they are here to enjoy the meal.

We hear they like roses and sugar maple, but we have seen that they especially enjoy Coreopsis (that is a woody bush with delicate green leaves that displays little yellow flowers in mid-summer). We have also seen lavender branches covered with small foamy white globs, which we assume is tent caterpillar larva.

How to control tent caterpillar damage

If you feel there are too many of these fuzzy little, black and gold caterpillars dining on your plants, we recommend removing as many of them as you can by picking them off and disposing of them. Do not spray with a pesticide. Using a bug spray can kill more than just the tent caterpillar. Instead, take them off by hand (you will probably want to use a glove.) If you step on them, they will make a mess of your shoe, so place in a bag and put in the garbage or use a paper bag at add them to your compost pile.

We normally do not advocate killing any insect as they are all good for the garden's eco-system in some way; however, the tent caterpillar is so abundant this year that killing a few won't have much of an impact and may keep your plant looking nice.

You can also try removing them from bushes or trees using a blower or water hose, but you may need to do this every day for the next week or so because until they are done with this eating-phase, they will come right back.

Try not to get too upset by these tent caterpillars. They will eat some of the plant foliage, but most plants will survive. It won't be long before these fuzzy friends make their tents and turn into little moths. If you need help with tent caterpillars or controlling other garden critters, we have a special Garden Stewardship Program that has been created to help with these very issues -– give us a call…check it out!

Category: Animals and Insects

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