Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 11, 2008 3:08 pm
Location: Austin, Texas

caterpillars! Tree bag worms!!!

Thanks for all the help in the fire ant department.. I just read about the cinnamon and am eager to try it out and I'll let you know how it goes.
On to another pest problem though.. Here in south texas there seems to be a general infestation of caterpillars.. we'll this is my first time gardening so maybe the rest of the US is like this too and I never noticed. The two trees I have in the backyard have little nestlike clusters like a ball of spikes (sticks) about 3 -4 inches in diameter. They seem to be on many of the trees in the area and are accompanied by a mossy type of fungus that grows on the bark.. I don't know if these little nests have to do with the caterpillars that bunji-jump like para-troopers from the limbs of the trees into the garden or not. Maybe they are different problems or indicative of the type of caterpillar. Nonetheless, crazy amounts of caterpillars :? I've been using a tobasco and garlic water solution that I read about and can't really tell if it's working or not. The peppers they were feeding on don't seem to have as much damage as before but now the little multi-apendage buggers are eating my newly sprouted bean shoots.. :x Any ideas?

Green Thumb
Posts: 399
Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:48 am
Location: VA

It sounds like you have tent worm caterpillars. Get yourself some Dipel (Bacillus thuringiensis) It is specific for caterpillars and is not toxic to humans and pets. Spray the foliage with the BT. The caterpillars will ingest it and it kills them. It takes a little while to work, but does the job and dissipates quickly. BT will work for any type of caterpillar, there are other types for different insect pests. Google for more info. :)

Super Green Thumb
Posts: 4659
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Victoria, BC

Light a little torch on fire and burn the tents. Works like a trick.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

Yes, Bt will work very well. It would be my preferred choice for treatment. The Bt you would want for tent worms would be Bacillus thuringiensis var. kurstaki. Using this product will not be an instant kill. It takes a while however it would get them all. Don't think you've failed because they don't fall to the ground the moment you spray like some of those toxic hornet and wasp sprays. Doesn't mean the Bt isn't working when the tent worms don't start dropping like dead flies, just means it works differently.

If the bag is in a location you can reach without breaking your neck, might be best to consider pruning off the limb and burning it as was also suggested. One thing though- timing. You want to prune off the limb when you know they're all in the bag and that would be about mid morning. If your timing is off, you could end up removing a limb that had only 10% of the population in it leaving the remaining 90% to migrate to new food sources. These tent worms are defoliators so you want to get as many as is possibly which is why timing is important.

Cool Member
Posts: 90
Joined: Mon Apr 24, 2006 3:33 pm
Location: Iowa
Contact: AOL

Ugh tent worms. Technically a caterpillar but we don't consider them that. Caterpillars are good. Tent worms are overly destructive. Luckily they aren't too difficult to kill off. If they are really bad in your area and likely to be a recurring problem every year you might want to look into attracting more birds to your garden. There are lots of species that eat tent worms in particular blue jays, blue birds, and chickadees will also hunt down the egg masses so they never get a chance to hatch. More birds can make a huge difference in tent worm populations so adding feeders, plants that provide food or shelter, and nest boxes will really help.

Greener Thumb
Posts: 1416
Joined: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:40 pm
Location: US

Tent worms have their place in the environment as noted by aqh88 but too much of a good thing can be too much of a good thing, particularly when one's specimen tree is being defoliated.

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