Tent Caterpillar Control
While many people consider winter the time of rest for a gardener it is actually quite the contrary. This is a season of varying tasks such as insect control, disease control, pruning and bed preparation in Central Virginia. For instance, the springtime Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum) can be controlled by spying for and removing the egg masses attached to branches of plants in the Rosaceae family: such as cherry, pear, crabapple, apple and apricots. In addition Tent Caterpillars have been reported to feed on a variety of hardwoods, including ash, birch, blackgum, oak, sweetgum, maple, and poplar as well.
The egg masses are easily removed by hand now or you can spray the tree with horticulture oil more toward the end of February. Spray the dormant branches and bark of the tree with diluted oil when the temperature stays above 40 degrees for a few days, it must not rain for 24 hours. The oil will not only suffocate the egg masses of the Tent Caterpillar it will also kill overwintering scale, mite and aphids on woody plants. Always follow the instructions on the label for proper mixing instructions and application rates.