MRLS: Eastern Tent Caterpillar Numbers Up
Eastern tent caterpillars have begun hatching in Central Kentucky–and their population numbers are trending up.
“Populations of the Eastern tent caterpillar have increased noticeably over the past three years,” said Lee Townsend, PhD, University of Kentucky College of Agriculture entomologist. “While infestations of the magnitude seen during the 2001-2002 mare reproductive loss syndrome outbreak are not anticipated, it is clear that Eastern tent caterpillar populations are on the upswing and could be heavier than normal in some areas. Assessments and management decisions can be made in a few weeks as the silvery, baseball-sized tents start to show up on branches.”
According to Townsend, egg hatch is following a historically normal pattern so far this year in Central Kentucky. While daily temperatures will determine the development rate of the caterpillars, there is no way to predict areas where caterpillar numbers will be higher or lower. Entomologists will be closely monitoring caterpillar development over the next two to three weeks.
“Eastern tent caterpillars are early spring insects and can cope with the erratic weather patterns that can occur in March and April. Development, including egg hatch, occurs when the temperature is above 37 degrees Fahrenheit. At 50 degrees, it takes about a month for all eggs to hatch. Warmer conditions will promote hatch over a shorter period of time and give a more uniform population,” he
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