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Oregon Pest Control Tips: Western Tent Caterpillars

Tent Caterpillar

Oregon pest control experts warn that parts of the state, particularly the along the Columbia River, are infested with Western tent caterpillars. The caterpillar is a native species, but its destructive habits have already affected about 13,000 trees this summer.

Caterpillars under Attack

Nature is doing its own type of Oregon pest management when it comes to the over-abundance of Western tent caterpillars, according to a June 2014 article in “The Oregonian.” The article states that the caterpillars are under attack as small parasitic wasps and other natural enemies feed on them.

Identifying Western Tent Caterpillars

Western tent caterpillars are the larval form of the Malacosoma californicum moth. The caterpillar is a light turquoise blue with a pair of brown racer stripes running down its back and brownish-orange fuzz on its body. The caterpillars produce one generation per year and mature within 30 to 40 days, which is when they pupate in silken cocoons.

When the caterpillars emerge in the spring, they feed as a colony and create silk tents that resemble glorified spider webs strung between tree branches. The caterpillars don’t pose a threat to humans, but they defoliate their host trees.

Oregon Pest Control Tips for Western Tent Caterpillars

The best thing to do if you have Western tent caterpillars in your trees is get them away from their food source by pruning the affected branches or knocking down the silk nest with a high-pressure spray of water. Never burn the silken nest because this will do more long-term damage to the tree than the caterpillars.

The Oregon Department of Forestry recommends using non-chemical pest control methods in regards to Western tent caterpillars. If you believe you have an infestation on your property, contact Eden Pest to identify the caterpillars and control the outbreak using earth-friendly techniques.

Call Eden Pest to schedule an inspection today.

[ Photo by: born1945, on Flickr, via CC License ]

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