Summer has come to an end and some of us are looking forward to a cooler seasonal change.  Especially the tent making caterpillars !!!!!


Really scary picture of a tent caterpillar nest !




This is a specialized sub group of butterflies and moths, the young (caterpillars) of this group build tents and large webbed structures to hide and protect themselves from predators.  Prevalent in the Northeastern U.S., they and show up in late summer or fall.  The many species come in a variety of colors and sizes, either mottled or with patterns  –  all of which help them further hide inside the tents they make.

Caterpillars encase the leaves and stems with silken threads until they form a large tent.  They stay inside the tent during the day to avoid birds, which can’t see them through the webs.   At night, they come out mainly to feed and enclose more leaves with silk.  Tents can reach several feet in length or even enclose an entire tree.  If left untreated, trees will be left totally bare of leaves.


O M G !!!!!




In North east US (NYC) Some web and tent caterpillars like the Ailanthus web worm (Atteva aurea), will not only attack the specific host tree but also anything else nearby !  Many are more opportunistic and concentrate on weak or stressed trees – particularly those that are root bound or in too small a container.

Pretty Ailanthus web worm moth


All web worms  prefer high sugar content leaves like anything in the rose family (apple, pear, peach etc.) or birch (birch, beech) and maples ! – but rarely ever go for any needled evergreen (Pines) or thick leaved plant like holly or mahonia.


Skeletonized leaves is the result of a webworm attack!


If you see any in your garden – Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

We have experts that know what to do !

We have NYSDEC licensed applicators whom can treat them too !!!

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !






Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission @SHUTTERSTOCK