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Eastern Tent Caterpillar Population Spotty, Manageable



Eastern tent caterpillar nest.  Photo: A. Nielson
 

“ If you wait too long, you will lose the early advantage.”

Lee Townsend,
UK Extension Entomologist

By Aimee Nielson

LEXINGTON, Ky., (May 3, 2006) – The parade of the eastern tent caterpillar throughout Kentucky is not as ‘grand’ as in recent years. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Extension Entomologist Lee Townsend said in some areas, the pest has not even made an appearance.

“The infestation is pretty spotty across the state,” he said. “In many areas you don’t see nests or other signs of the caterpillar, but in other areas it is quite prominent.”

Townsend recommends that horse farm managers carefully examine their property to assess the situation and determine management steps if necessary. He said it is best to manage the pest while it is still on the tree.

“Most of the population is about through two-thirds of the lifecycle,” he said. “Some of the early hatchers are already beginning to wander into nearby fields. Within a week or so, the rest will begin to leave the nests. If you wait too long, you will lose the early advantage.”

Early management of the eastern tent caterpillar can be as simple as removing and destroying active nests, which Townsend said are mostly closer to the trunks of trees now. If the pests have already begun migrating from the nest, management may include spot treatment with a foliar spray or barrier sprays.

“You should also clean accumulations of caterpillars from fence posts and other areas,” Townsend said. “With just pockets of activity, farm managers just need to be watchful and also be aware that adjacent properties may have infestations that could travel over the fence.”


Writer: Aimee Nielson  (859) 257-4736, ext. 267

Contact: Lee Townsend, (859) 257-7455

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