Helping Your Trees Recover from Tent Caterpillars and Oak Worm

By October 9, 2017Plant Care

Are your landscape trees looking ravaged from tent caterpillars or oak worms?

This summer, oak worms may still be causing significant foliage damage to your oak trees—while tent caterpillars ate through your other deciduous trees earlier in the season.

But take heart—your trees aren’t dead and will recover their beautiful leaf canopies next spring.

What are tent caterpillars and oak worms?

Tent caterpillars and oak worms are the larval stages of moths. Tent caterpillars eat your deciduous trees, such as ornamental cherry, sweet gum and other trees during the spring and early summer months. Oak worms do their damage in late summer through early fall when they busily eat through your oak trees’ leaves.

Typically, there aren’t any real measures that landscapers can take to get rid of these pests, except to get remove of these larvae nests out of your trees. Also, a spore treatment called Bacillus thuringiensis (B.t.) can be used to stop oak worms dropping their waste pellets and making a mess underneath your trees.

Also, B.t. can be used in the spring and early summer to get rid of tent caterpillars when they’re in full swing, eating your trees’ leaves to prepare to pupate in mid-summer.

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Helping Your Landscape Trees Recover

You may have naked trees, but leaf loss isn’t the same thing as a dead tree. These pests won’t kill your trees.

Indeed, your deciduous trees will recover their leaves the following growing season.

However, there are some things you can do to help them recover and prevent these larvae from returning next summer:

  1. During the winter and into early spring, remove all larvae nests from your trees.


  1. Kill young caterpillars with B.t.


  1. Consider a plant health program through your local landscape company.


  1. Remember to keep fertilizing your trees to help them better resist insects, including caterpillars and other larvae.

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Why You Should Invest in a Plant Health Care (PHC) Program?

Investing in a PHC program through your landscaping company helps prevent tent caterpillars, oak worms and other insects from destroying your property’s trees.

PHC is a comprehensive program that starts in late winter and provides services through early fall. Here’s what you can expect:

  • In late winter, your landscaper will apply horticultural oil to your landscape trees to prevent insects from laying their eggs and larvae.


  • Fertilization in early spring helps your trees and shrubs resist disease and insects as well as have fuller foliage and blossoms.


  • In late spring and into late fall, your landscaping company will inspect your trees, shrubs and landscaped beds for insects and disease. Since your trees and other plants are the most susceptible to both insects and disease at this time, your technician will apply insect and disease controls to protect your trees and other plants.


  • In the fall, your landscape technician will apply another round of horticultural oil to prevent insects overwintering in the bark of your trees and shrubs.


  • You may also want to add on another service called deep root injection where nutrients are injected directly into your trees’ root system. Why?


So your trees remain healthy and can naturally build up a defense system to protect them from insects, larvae and disease.


While tent caterpillars and oak worms can ruin your trees’ canopy you don’t have to be stuck with bare trees throughout the rest of the summer. Indeed, hiring a landscaping company to take care of your plant health care needs will prevent defoliation and insect damage in the future.

If you’re ready to protect your trees from next year’s tent caterpillars—or even this season’s oak worms, call us at Agropro today at 678-445-9990 or fill out our contact form.


Bessin, Ric, “Eastern Tent Caterpillar,” Entomology at the University of Kentucky: ENTFACT: 423.

Reeves, Walter, “Orange-striped Oak Worm.”

Ibid, “Tent Caterpillars – Control.”

Agropro Lawn Care Service~ Agropro provides Lawn Care and Plant Health Care services to these areas in North Georgia: Alpharetta, Atlanta, Buckhead, Canton, Cumming, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Marietta, Milton, Roswell, Sandy Springs, and Woodstock.