Not all caterpillars are the same, especially if they are the Asian Tent Caterpillar, which is shown to the left. They arrive in early spring and make their tents in the tree branches and feed on cherry, apple, plum, peach and hawthorn trees several times per day. The damage they do to trees is usually aesthetic and the trees can recover from a single attack.
An attack by the Tent Caterpillar starts by them eating the leaves off of one branch before moving to the next one. Then they divide into smaller groups and attack multiple branches at the same time, which can result in 20% defoliation of a small tree. Several tents on one tree can totally defoliate it. This makes the tree susceptible to drought, freezing, or disease.
If you think you have Asian Tent Caterpillars, call Landscape Associates at 920-337-4915.