Caterpillars are the larvae of either moths or butterflies and at this stage in their life, they eat. Because of this, they can cause damage to your garden and trees. But how do you know what caterpillars can be detrimental to the health of your trees?
The following list of caterpillars can help you determine which to look out for throughout the year:
Your trees can handle moderate defoliation by these caterpillars but if left unchecked, can lead to defoliation and potential death. You will need to manage the population to keep your trees healthy and happy.
Tent Caterpillars, Webworms & Bagworms
Tent caterpillars and webworms are caterpillars that build nests in trees that resemble large webs. Tent caterpillars build their webs in the spring at the base of the branch near branch unions. They should be treated as their feeding can cause serious damage to fruit trees and ornamental cherries, plums and others. Fall webworms build their webs at the ends of branches in late summer. Webworms that create webs in late summer do little true damage since the foliage they eat is about to go dormant and will soon fall off the tree. They are unsightly, but long-term damage is minimal. There is a specific type of webworm known as mimosa webworm that attacks mimosa and honeylocust trees in mid-summer. These should be controlled as their feeding can weaken the host tree.
Bagworms are easy to spot in the summer as brownish bags that encase the caterpillar. These caterpillars can feed heavily and cause serious damage to many host tree species. Control measures are best before the bags are large and easily seen. A late spring inspection to see if the smaller bags are present will make control easier. While picking off the bagworms is a great organic approach, it can be tedious and difficult on larger trees. Common hosts include many evergreen species like juniper, arborvitae, spruce, etc. In some years these pervasive critters will feed on hardwoods such as sweetgum and honeylocust and cause considerable damage.
Gypsy moths are known for defoliating trees, leading to stress that can prevent them from handling other diseases and environmental changes like a too-hot summer. It may take years to see the effects of an established gypsy moth community.
Simply put, “good” caterpillars are those you want to intentionally attract for their beauty or place in the environment. For example, you may want to attract pollinators like butterflies, which will result in caterpillars for monarchs and other butterflies and moths.
Contact The Professional ISA-Certified Arborists At Hansen’s Tree Service
To prevent pest infestations in your trees, contact the ISA-certified arborists at Hansen’s Tree Service. We will come to your home for a hassle-free estimate to inspect your trees for pests such as bagworms and provide you with a treatment plan.
Different pests require different treatments throughout the year and we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to keep your trees healthy and pest-free.