When spring comes around, lots of things come alive. The animals come out of hibernation, people start to come out of their homes and insects come alive. Many of these insects are pests and problematic for people, their homes and their businesses. One of the big yard pests that we see in the spring time, is the tent caterpillar.  This insect weaves its silk nest in the crotch of a tree. But many people asked the question what does the tent caterpillar turn into? The tent caterpillar becomes a tent caterpillar moth. 

The tent caterpillar moth is a smallmouth it is yellowish white in color. It has two little stripes on the back of it for wings. This mouth does not last a long time, because each generation is only one year in length. The tent caterpillar worm will develop into this, being that the tent caterpillar moth is the adult reproductive version of the tent caterpillar worm.


The tent caterpillar starts as an egg. This egg is found in a mass often wrapped around a tree branch about the size of a pencil. The egg mass often has a varnished look to it and it’s solid. Sometime in the mid to late spring, these egg masses will start to hatch. As they do, the tent caterpillar will start to feed on the foliage of the tree. Then it will work together in a social situation where the caterpillars will create a tent of silk usually at the Y of a branch in the tree. Often two different egg masses will connect their tents in order to create a large network of tent caterpillar nests.

The tent caterpillar will continue to come out usually early in the morning and just before dusk to feed on foliage. It does this to stay out of the heat and to protect itself from predators. As the caterpillar begins to grow, it will eventually outgrow its caterpillar state. At this point, the tent caterpillars will abandon their nest, and try to find a place to pupate. This is the process by which the tent caterpillar will cocoon in order to develop into a full grown adult. Your Tulsa exterminator can help.  

Once they finish this process, the adults will emerge from their cocoons as tent caterpillar moths. They will mate, and the females will find an adequate tree to lay her eggs. The egg mass that she lays around the branch of the tree will have anywhere from 150 to 400 eggs. Then the adults will die and the eggs will survive through the winter and begin again in the new year.


Tent caterpillars love to use ornamental trees as their preferred nesting place. They’re commonly found on wild cherry, apple and crab apple trees, but are also found on Hawthorne, maple, cherry, peach, pear and plum trees as well. In small numbers, these insects don’t do any damage to the trees that they nest upon. The problem comes when their numbers get so large that they defoliate the entire tree. This can happen quite often especially if you have more than one egg mass found on a tree. Distance of creating a large net work of tent caterpillar nests that are full of caterpillars. When you can have up to 400 eggs in one egg mass becoming a full nest of 400 caterpillars, and then multiple nests upon a single tree, the numbers get quite large quite quickly. 

In addition to this, as these insects decide to go and pupate, they must crawl to a secondary location in order to create their cocoon. This usually means that they’re crawling across the ground, on cars and on the sides of our homes. These caterpillars, measuring anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 inches in length, are easily squashed by a passing car or an unaware pedestrian. They make an awful mess. Also these insects are often prayed upon by birds and other predators. This can bring bird droppings to places that you may not want them. And of course the silk nest themselves are unsightly and make a tree look like it is damaged or sickly. Call your Broken Arrow pest control company for more information.  


The best time to get ahead of these insects is during the spring months when the tent caterpillar is still young. It’s only during the early stages of its caterpillar days that these insects feed upon the majority of the leaves and foliage that it will. Because of this, it’s important to eliminate them before they damage a tree by eating too many of the leaves. Removing nests can be one way of dealing with these insects. If you can find the egg mass before they hatch, you can either cut the branch out removing the egg mask, or you can use a pesticide level oil to cover the egg mask, suffocating the eggs underneath. 

While it may be tempting to burn the nest out of the tree, this is not advisable. Burning the nest could damage the tree more than the tent caterpillars will. It could also be a fire hazard that could spread larger than you expect. In addition to removing the nests and egg mass, pesticides can be used. If you treat the foliage of the tree, these tent worms will consume the trees leaves, ingesting the pesticide and die. You can get help from a reputable Broken Arrow exterminator.  


If you find yourself in a situation where you’re dealing with tent caterpillars, it’s time to call in a professional Tulsa pest control company. Here at TermMax Pest Control, we’re the best in the business when it comes to dealing with all kinds of pests including tent caterpillars. We service the greater Tulsa area including Coweta, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Claremore, Catoosa, Prattville, Bixby, Jenks, Owasso, Turley and much more. Call today for a free estimate. We’re here to help! 

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