Tenting

In this summer of wildfires, the only ones doing any tenting are the caterpillars.

In my front yard is a black walnut tree that the Captain and I planted when it was no more than a six-foot high stick. Twenty-six years later it is a tall tree, desperately reaching for the sky as the leylandi cypress beside it crowds it more every year.

But see who is camping in the walnut tree! With all the warnings about camping being banned in so many places, these tenters have invaded my yard AGAIN! They attacked the apple trees in the early spring. Then they came back to take up residence in  the walnut tree (the kind that has walnuts) in the backyard, and now they are taking up residence in the ornamental black walnut in the front yard. They’re getting smarter too. This time they are much higher and out of my reach.


Here is a closer look.

And an even closer look. You can see that many of the leaves have already been eaten. I looked up tent caterpillars and found out that these are most likely the larvae of the malacosoma moth. I don’t think I like moths anymore.

Guess I’ll have to call the fire department to come and get this tent out of the tree. They have high ladders and brave men, but oh, hold on — they’re all busy fighting wildfires just now. I’ll have to see if I can find a good Samaritan to help me out.

Do you have these unwanted guests tenting in your yard too?

46 thoughts on “Tenting

    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      Oooh! That’s harsh! But then, so is burning them – which is what we did in the spring, but wouldn’t dare do now. I might have to get out the vinegar, but this could take a lot.

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  1. Peter Klopp

    They seem to come in three to four years intervals. We had lots in our apple trees a few years ago. I cut off the affected branches and burned them tent caterpillars and all. Good luck with your unwelcome tenters, Anneli!

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  2. pobept

    Sounds like you have an infestation of fall webworm. Not easy to control.
    In the spring you likely have an infestation of Tent caterpillars not webworms. They are not the same critters but both can and often do cause a lot of damage to your trees.
    Happy Gardening

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      That’s interesting. I looked up that webworm and I’ve never seen the orange/white/black moth it turns into, but I can’t even be sure of the colour of the caterpillars. Maybe when I get that tent out of there, I can get a picture of the caterpillars and track them down farther. Thanks for your help.

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  3. Sonja Forrester

    These “tents” appear to be very prevalent all over the island. On our way to Victoria the other day, I noticed so many of these nests up high in the trees. With the cooler nights setting in, I don’t think I would even bother with these campers if they were somewhere high up in my trees. They will vacate soon enough. The leaves will be gone soon regardless of the temporary squatters on your property.

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      I suppose you’re right, Sonja. The leaves will be gone soon enough. The walnut is one of the last to lose its leaves and looks pretty for a long time, and I do wonder if it saps the strength of the tree if they lose their leaves too soon, but yes, that is one good thing about winter. It’s the end of the smorgasbord for the insects.

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  4. Lynette d'Arty-Cross

    I used an organic caterpillar solution attached to a garden hose to get rid of the tenters. I just pointed the water/solution spray into the upper branches. I don’t remember the name of what I used but a visit to a greenhouse should fix that. 🙂

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  5. Pit

    Sorry to see those, Anneli. 😦 Fortunately, we don’t have those in our trees. But even without them, they are suffering enough in the present drought.
    Have a wonderful Sunday, and good luck with removing the parasites,
    Pit

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      Thanks, Pit. Much as I don’t like to have caterpillars in my trees, I don’t want them to suffer either. (A quick death for them would suit me. But the older I get, the more I feel bad for thoughts like that.)

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  6. Gladys

    I was told that the reason we have so many tent caterpillars this year is because of the scarcity of wasps. Apparently wasps love them and keep their number down. Although it is rather pleasant eating outdoors without wasps buzzing around your face just as you start to take a bite of the BBQ salmon..

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      I didn’t know that about the wasps. So they do some good after all. I know they say that wasps (yellow jackets) do the job of pollinating too, just as bees do, so I’ve stopped trying to exterminate them, unless they come between me and my food. Wish they were here to eat those caterpillars.

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  7. D. Wallace Peach

    Ugh, Anneli. I don’t have these, but we had them when I lived on the east coast. My dad used to wrap the trees and put goop on the wrapping so the caterpillars couldn’t climb up the trunk. They can do a lot of damage. 😦

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    1. wordsfromanneli Post author

      Oh! I thought the moths or butterflies flew up into the trees and laid eggs which then hatched and turned into caterpillars that fed on the leaves. I’m not sure what happens after that. Cocoons, chrysalises? I’ve used the paper with sticky stuff to keep the ants off the trees. Could that have been what your dad was doing?

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      1. D. Wallace Peach

        I think so. I’m not any expert on this stuff, but I clearly remember my dad’s war on the tent caterpillars and wrapping around the trees. My brothers and I used to scrape the caterpillars from the bottom of the tree into jars. I won’t tell you what we used to do to them. Ugh.

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