Councillor Shelley Carroll

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Tent Caterpillars

Our office has received calls from a few residents who are having problems with tent caterpillars. Please find below a briefing from our Forestry staff on these pests. Hope it helps.

Toronto is dealing with an overwhelming number of calls in the last two weeks, due to the widespread infestation of Eastern Tent Caterpillar (ETC).

The ETC is a concern to the public because the tents are ugly. This pest is not a serious threat to the health of trees. It primarily infests certain varieties of crabapples, and this year especially, Shubert choke cherries.

To deal with this pest most effectively and at the same time limit public concerns, we suggest the following steps:

a) Refer to the ETC fact sheet on the website There is information on the pest and useful recommendations for the control.

b) Explain that this pest only feeds on the leaves of fruit trees and will not spread to other tree species. Explain that ETC is a cosmetic problem and a nuisance and in most cases will not kill the tree. Crabapples usually flush second set of leaves later when ETC completes the feeding.

c) There are some useful things that the homeowner can do to control this pest as well.

Prune or cut away the small branches with the tents. This should be done during the daytime, when most of the caterpillars are in the tent. The cut should be clean, taking care not to tear the bark. The tents can be mechanically destroyed by stepping on them, or put in the paper bag and disposed or composted.

If the tents are attached to thick branches, they can be destroyed by squeezing them with a rug ball tied on a stick or with a hard brush. Also they can be washed off by a jet spray of water using a gardenhose.

Destroy ETC wherever you find them, squishing them rather than using pesticides.

Thank you.

The Forest Health Care section.