Gypsy Moth caterpillars are very common during the spring season here in New England.  Some years they aren’t much of a problem but other years their population booms and they are everywhere.  This is one of those years.  Those dang caterpillars will eat a tree clean of its leaves and leave behind piles of half eaten leaves and droppings.  Don’t believe me? Check out the picture of my back porch steps…gross right?

Preventing Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Damage

We have a beautiful oak tree in our backyard.  It provides lots of shade and holds up our much-used clothesline.  We love this tree, it pretty much makes our yard.  But for the last two weeks we haven’t even been able to go out on to the porch or play in the yard because it was literally raining caterpillar droppings…gross again right?  We were getting really worried about our favorite tree until we got a little piece of advice from our Pastor.  She had heard of a trick from some local, old-school, farmers to keep caterpillars out of trees and well, they tend to know what’s up, which is why I am happy to support them!

So, here it is, the old school, swamp yankee method for saving your trees (and your backyard, porch, and clothesline) from caterpillar destruction.

Preventing Gypsy Moth Caterpillar Damage


A big roll of tape (duct or clear packing tape will work)

A jar of vaseline

A spray bottle filled with dish soap and water.


  1. Run a few passes of tape all the way the tree at chest height, try and get it as flat against the tree as possible.
  2. Cover the tape with a good coating of vaseline. Note: it this isn’t a pretty solution but it works, i promise.
  3. Sit back and watch the caterpillars collect below the tape.  It’s like an invisible, vaseline coated force field.
  4. A couple times a day go out and spray the heck out the caterpillars that have collected with the soap and water mixture.  That will cause them to drop dead (literally, they will fall out of the tree so stand back)

Saving Trees from Gypsy Moth Caterpillars

Now I know, you’re thinking this is crazy and I was too but it works! We’ve kept a disgusting amount of caterpillars out of our tree and the rain of poop is letting up.  I’m going to give it a day or two more but then we’ll be able to actually use our porch again.

Do you have Gypsy Moth caterpillars in your neck of the woods? I’d love to hear how you deal with them.