If you are concerned about newly planted or feature trees or shrubs around your home, then you may decide to take action to protect them against the recent tent caterpillar infestation in town. Town of Vermilion staff is actively controlling feature areas around town, but your help with your own trees around your home will aid in the overall effort.
Mechanical controls (gloved hands) are most effective. Caterpillars are most visible when it is cool and they are clumped together at the base or in crotches of the tree in the mornings or evenings. Proceed as follows:
- Use a gloved hand to brush the clump of caterpillars onto the ground and step on them, or put them into a pail of soapy water, or put them into a sealed garbage bag and trash them;
- Look for webbed “tents” where the eggs and larvae may be and using a gloved hand or small brush remove them from the tree; or prune areas if they are higher up the tree;
- Use a pressure washer to remove them from the trees—be careful with the pressure—step on the caterpillars on the ground;
- Biological controls like Bt may be useful when the caterpillars are young but less so as they mature.
Note: The Town of Vermilion has a “No Spray” policy when it comes to pests. However, chemical spraying is generally less desirable because of the tendency for chemicals to kill other things like birds, other insects, etc.