Caterpillars in the Trees

Tent CaterpillarEarly Spring, our residents will see activity and potential defoliation caused by either Forest Tent Caterpillar or Live Oak Tussock Moth.

TheĀ Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) or the Live Oak Tussock Moth (Orgyia detrita) are moth species with a life cycle coinciding with Coastal Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) leaf emergence in the spring. Live Oak Tussock Moth favors Coastal Live Oak trees as a host plant, and Forest Tent Caterpillar can be found in different tree species or in high populations on surfaces (buildings, cars, etc). The Forest Tent caterpillar does not build a tent but spins a loosely woven resting mat on trunks and larger branches. Dozens of caterpillars may congregate on these mats between feedings.

Emerging caterpillars may partially defoliate the tree. Note that healthy trees can tolerate a total defoliation without suffering permanent damage. By the time homeowners notice the leaf damage on their trees, most caterpillars have stopped feeding and are entering the non-feeding pupal stage. A stressed tree may not recover from this type of damage, and preferred control can involve the use of insecticides. Always assess the health of your tree with proper monitoring and cultivate a healthy tree through cultural methods (mulching, appropriate watering). For further information, see the links below:

For further information, see the links below:

Advice is to have patience as this phenomenon occurs once a year in this season and for a limited time. Thank you always for the opportunity to serve and I’ll see you in the garden.

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