Forest Tent Caterpillars
“But Neil! There aren’t any tents!
That’s what I hear when I identify these pests for Texas gardeners. But that’s exactly what they are. They’re closely related to our common tent caterpillars, and they do the same kind of feeding. It’s just that they don’t build those elaborate protective tents.
By the time they begin to congregate on trunks like these were on my Facebook friend Lori Randolph’s tree, the caterpillars have pretty much finished their feeding. They could easily be sprayed with B.t. or almost any inorganic insecticide, or you could blast them off with the water hose. Or you could just sit back and watch the birds have a feast. (That’s probably when they wish they’d built some tents!)
Here is information from our friend Extension entomologist Dr. Mike Merchant.