Eastern Tent Caterpillar Egg Hatch Now Underway for Central Kentucky

Move pregnant mares from areas where wild cherry trees are abundant to minimize caterpillar exposure; digestion of the insects can cause early- and late-term foal losses or weak foals.
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Eastern Tent Caterpillar Egg Hatch Now Underway for Central Kentucky
Eastern tent caterpillars have begun to hatch, with the first instances being seen in Central Kentucky on March 12, say entomologists in the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. | Photo: Courtesy Dr. Lee Townsend
Eastern tent caterpillars have begun to hatch, with the first instances being seen in Central Kentucky on March 12, say entomologists in the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

Jonathan Larson, entomology extension specialist, reports that the first tiny eastern tent caterpillars of the season are now emerging after spending about nine months as eggs in masses on twigs of wild cherry and related trees. The egg hatch normally occurs at forsythia bloom, which started this week.

The larvae are among the first insects to become active in the spring and are well-equipped to cope with Kentucky’s erratic temperature swings.

According to UK’s entomology researchers, egg hatch occurs over several weeks in early spring. This increases the chance for survival in case of late freezes. The caterpillars grow and develop when the temperature is above 37 degrees F. Their preferred food plants are wild cherry, apple, and crabapple, but they may be found on hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum, as well

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