Be Nice to the Eastern Tent Caterpillars
If you have planted a fruit tree- apple, cherry or plum for example, then you should expect to see eastern tent caterpillars (Malacosoma americana) occasionally. The caterpillars of these moths are web-spinners and, if there is a large population on a particular tree, the tree can become completely defoliated. The caterpillars produce silken nests in the crotch of branches (which can look like the home of a giant spider). After completing their development, caterpillars exit the trees and wander over plants, walkways and roads searching for a protected spot to develop into moths.

Members of the public often ask: "what can be done?" about these short-term outbreaks of caterpillars, as they look damaging and people dislike the “gross and disgusting” creepiness of the web-nests. The answer is there is no need to do anything about them; the trees reliably recover as the larvae and moths are part of the food chain. This sort of organism is a good test as to whether people can really live with Nature, and most people fail this test. The previous generations took it upon themselves to 'conquer the wilderness' and this decision has steered the planet in an unsustainable direction. Time to pull hard on the rudder and re-direct ourselves to work with Nature, rather than destroying it for short-term aims. Tolerance for the harmless eastern tent caterpillar would be a start. Welcoming them would be even better!
In summer, the female moth deposits eggs in a mass around small twigs on a host plant that remain until spring. (Photo: Yurika Alexander)
The eastern tent caterpillar is a beautiful creature with blue stripes and patches on the side and a white stripe down the center of the back.
(Photo: MJ Hatfield)
The caterpillars do not feed within their webs, but congregate there during the night and rainy weather. 
(Photo: Masumi Palhof)
Underrated Native of the Week: Fothergilla
Fothergilla is a medium-sized shrub worthy of wider landscape use. These lovely shrubs are members of the same family as Witch Hazel (Hamamelidaceae). Fothergilla is indigenous to the Allegheny Mountains, from North Carolina and Tennessee to northern Alabama, and hardy from Zone 4-8. Fothergilla is excellent for interesting flowers, good summer foliage and outstanding fall color.

Fothergilla is covered with spectacular masses of unusual white "bottle-brush" inflorescence in May. The flowers are decidedly fragrant, the scent being somewhat difficult to describe but nevertheless very pleasant. In the fall, the shrubs are again a mass of color, the foliage varying from a brilliant yellow-orange to red. Summer foliage is dark green to bluish green, somewhat leathery in texture and quite attractive. Fothergilla is untroubled by insects or disease, although bunnies and deer may cause damage. Wrapping the shrub in chicken wire over the winter months can prevent uninvited nibbling.

Fothergilla can be used in foundation planting, borders, massing, and is good paired with rhododendrons and azaleas. Among native plants I have many favorites, but this plant is near the top. The fothergilla ask so little from gardeners yet give so much. All friends should exhibit this kind of relationship. 
Fothergilla flowers appear in May, are honey-scented and last 3-4 weeks.
Fothergilla ‘Blue Shadow’ has handsome blue foliage, an interesting diversion from typical green.
Fothergilla has knockout orange-red fall color.
Smoked Trout and Pasta Salad
6 Tablespoons olive oil
Juice and zest from 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp chili flakes
1 bunch scallions, pale green and white parts, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped parsley
9 oz bow-tie pasta, cooked and drained, room temperature
1-pound smoked trout, skinned, boned, flaked
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
In a large bowl, whisk together oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt and chili flakes.
Toss in remaining ingredients.
Thanks for Reading
and Happy Planting!
Faith Appelquist
President & Founder