Ick. Tent worms can do number on trees, and they have invaded Verona Beach. They are squirming and wiggling around on everything in sight, including sidewalks, cars, floating on the water, and unfortunately eating their way through the vegetation.


We're getting reports that the tent caterpillars are horrible at Verona Beach. The forest tent caterpillars (FTC) (Malacosoma disstria) and eastern tent caterpillars (ETC) (Malacosoma americanum) are native to New York State.

These famished worms are eating the springtime leaves, and although it looks gross, it will not kill a healthy tree leaf dropping tree. The DEC says these trees may grow more leaves in July when the tent caterpillars and gypsy moths stop feeding.


According to the  DEC, you can control the problem by removing the egg masses, inhabited tents, and pupa by hand and dropping them into a detergent container. After, install sticky tree wraps on trunks to capture caterpillars as they move up and down trees. You can also let nature take its course. About 60 bird species, including orioles, jays, will eat the worms as well as rodents.

Tent caterpillars are harmless to humans, but you should note that ingestion of eastern tent caterpillars by pregnant horses can cause them to miscarry.


If you see masses of dark hairy caterpillars eating the leaves on your trees, it's likely one of the 3 varieties above. The fall webworm is sometimes confused with the forest and eastern tent worm; It's hairy, a pale green or yellow in color, and has black or reddish spots along its back and makes its tents in July and August, while eastern tent caterpillars make their tents in spring.

We agree the caterpillars are gross, but remember, everything has its purpose.

Mallory Gilchrist Coffman

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