PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A lot of kids are familiar with the tale of transformation in Eric Carle’s children’s classic “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
That charming story has little to with “malasoma americanus,” also known as the eastern tent caterpillar. And, we may be looking at a bumper crop this year.
“It may be the cyclical nature of the bug and how they breed,” says Paul Hauber, of the McMurray Nursery. “It was a really hard winter, so you’d think that the tent worms had actually died over the winter. But we’re seeing a lot of them on like fruit trees or crabapple trees.”
Each female lays 200 to 300 eggs at a time. Then, the newly-hatched caterpillars spin their silken tents, and they are hungry chomping down three square meals a day – morning, noon and night.
Tent caterpillars eat the leaves where they build their tents, but don’t travel much.
The foliage grows back.
“They’re ugly, they’re horrible, but they don’t cause a lot of damage and they’re real easy to get rid of,” says Hauber.
They are a couple of ways to do that – one is green and the other not so much.
“That’s the gross part,” Hauber says. “You have to actually… you can do it the nice, natural way and peel the tents off and drop them in a soapy water solution.”
Or, you can go to the local hardware store for an insecticidal spray.
“And if you spray them with insecticidal spray, they’ll be gone the next day,” Hauber adds.
If all else fails.
“Just enjoy the spring,” he says.