Tag Archives: Western Tent Caterpillar

Diggin’ in the Dirt: Western Tent Caterpillar

Western Tent Caterpillar

As this is being written, parts of Columbia County are inundated with one of the largest Western tent caterpillar populations in the last 20 years. The Rainier/Apiary/ Alston Mayger areas are especially hard hit. These very hungry caterpillars have consumed almost all the leaves from many alder, willow, poplar, and apple family trees and are now looking for other less favorite food. In affected areas, they are dropping by the millions onto lawns, houses, and cars in search of leftover leaves. One caller described her lawn as a wriggling mass of these caterpillars. She was not amused. Some early June weddings had to be moved inside. Soon the caterpillars will stop eating, spin a cocoon, and in about three weeks, emerge as the adult moths. These moth fly around (watch your evening lights), mate, lay eggs on twigs, and then die. It’s a rather short adulthood but that’s the way it is with the Western tent caterpillar. The eggs stay glued to twigs until next spring when they hatch and the caterpillars emerge, determined to feed. Read More