What Does A Tent Caterpillar Turn Into

Tent caterpillar – Wikipedia

Tent caterpillars
Eastern tent caterpillar,Malacosoma americanum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Lasiocampidae
Subfamily: Lasiocampinae
Genus: MalacosomaHübner, 1822
About 26, including:
  • The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum)
  • The western tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum)
  • The ground lackey (Malacosoma castrense)
  • And the ground lackey (Malacosoma castrense). Malacosoma disstrium, the forest tent caterpillar
  • Malacosoma neustrium, the lackey moth
  • Malacosoma disstrium, the forest tent caterpillar

Insects such as the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) and the western tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum) as well as the ground lackey (Malacosoma castrense) have been identified. M. disstrium, also known as forest tent caterpillar; M. neustrium, also known as lackey moth; M. neustrium, also known as lackey moth

Life cycle

In the following description of the tent caterpillar life cycle, the eastern tent caterpillar, which is the most well-known species, is used as a model. The specifics of the life cycles of other animals differ only little from one another. It is during the early spring season, when the leaves of their host trees are just beginning to emerge, that tent caterpillars hatch from their eggs. The caterpillars begin constructing their tent as soon as the gates close. The tent is built in such a way that it is shielded from the light in the early morning.

  1. Studies have indicated that digestion cannot take place when the body temperature of a caterpillar is less than around 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit).
  2. Caterpillars may regulate their internal body temperatures by traveling from one compartment to another within their body.
  3. On frigid but sunny spring mornings, it is not uncommon to find that the temperature of the aggregate is as much as 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the temperature of the surrounding air.
  4. Due to the fact that tent caterpillars’ digestive physiology is oriented to young leaves, they must feed multiple times per day in order to finish their larval development before the leaves of their host trees grow too old for them to consume, which forces them to feed several times each day.
  5. The caterpillars return to the tent immediately after eating and congregate in the sunshine to aid with the digestive process.
  6. The forest tent caterpillar, on the other hand, is a nomadic forager who constructs a succession of temporary resting spots during the course of its larval growth, unlike the other caterpillars.
  7. Caterpillars migrate out from the tent in search of food, leaving a pheromone trail behind them as they pass over the branches of the host tree, which they use to find food.

If a caterpillar finds food and consumes it until it reaches full maturity, it will return to the tent, leaving a recruiting trail that will attract other hungry tent mates to the location of the food source.

The chemical recruiting trail of the eastern tent caterpillar is very similar to the pheromone trails used by ants and termites to notify their nest mates to the discovery of food sources in their environment.

Because of this, a colony of caterpillars generates vast volumes of fecal pellets on a regular basis.

The audio illusion of rain is created by fecal pellets falling from trees where caterpillars are feeding, creating the aural illusion of rain.

It is believed that the final instar eats around 80% of the total amount of food consumed by a larva over its entire life cycle.

Caterpillars grow at a quick rate, and their larval development is usually completed in seven to eight weeks on average.

They become fully grown adults around two weeks after that.

Mating normally takes place in the early evening, and the mated female, who is already heavily loaded with eggs, oviposits the whole clutch of eggs later that evening.

Spumaline has a hydrophilic property, which means it protects the eggs from becoming dry.

The female moth dies shortly after laying her eggs, despite the fact that the male can survive for a week or more.

Embryogenesis occurs shortly after the egg mass is implanted in the uterus.

Thesepharatelarvae are kept safe within the shells of the eggs until the next spring, when they hatch.

Because they are very freeze-tolerant, pharate larvae may survive temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) in northern climates.

The forest tent caterpillar, which is the most well-known of the epidemic species, is responsible for the outbreak.

Despite the fact that these outbreaks do not follow real cycles in the sense that they occur at regular intervals, outbreaks have been observed in some particularly vulnerable places every 10 years or so on average.

Parasitoid infestations and illness are among the factors that put epidemics to a stop.

Trees that have been defoliated by caterpillars will normally refoliate and will not suffer any long-term consequences.

Trees or sections of trees may, in certain situations, be destroyed after multiple seasons of recurrent defoliation, but this is not always the case. This occurred as a result of forest tent caterpillars defoliating sugar maples that were already stressed as a result of the recent drought.

  • Based on the life cycle and appearance of the eastern tent caterpillar, which is the best-known species, the following description of tent caterpillar life cycle is provided: Details of other species’ lives are only slightly different from ours in terms of specifics. It is during the early spring season, when the leaves of their host trees are just beginning to open, that tent caterpillars hatch from their eggs. It is not long after they close that the caterpillars build their tent. Building the tent at a location that is shaded from the early morning sun is an excellent idea! Since the caterpillars must bask in the sun to raise their temperatures beyond that of the chilly ambient temperatures that prevail in early spring, the location of the tent is crucial for their survival. The body temperature of a caterpillar must be greater than 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit) for digestion to take place, according to scientific evidence. In this tent, the layers of silk are divided by gaps, and the temperature in each compartment differs significantly from the rest of the structure. A caterpillar’s body temperature may be adjusted by switching from one chamber to another. The birds usually congregate in a close cluster just beneath the surface of the tent that is illuminated by the sun on cold mornings. Even on frigid but sunny spring mornings, it is not uncommon to find that the aggregate’s temperature is as much as 30 degrees Celsius (54 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than the surrounding air temperature. After a while in the spring, temperatures may become excessive at midday, causing the caterpillars to seek refuge on the shaded outer surface of the tent to cool themselves down. Due to the fact that tent caterpillars’ digestive physiology is tuned to young leaves, they must feed several times per day in order to complete their larval development before the leaves of their host trees become too old for them to eat, which forces them to feed several times per day during their larval development. After leaving the tent in large numbers to forage for food, caterpillars go to distant feeding places in a group. After eating, the caterpillars immediately return to the tent and congregate in the sunshine to aid with the digestion process. Foraging for eastern tent caterpillars takes occurs in the middle of the night. A migratory forager and temporary resting site establisher, the forest tent caterpillar is an exception to this rule. During the course of its larval development, the forest tent caterpillar visits a number of different temporary resting sites. According to research, eastern tent caterpillars recruit their tent mates to go on food hunts with them in order to locate food. In their hunt for food, caterpillars migrate out from the tent and over the branches of the host tree, leaving a pheromone trail behind them. In order for caterpillars to return to the tent, chemical exploring trails must be laid down. After finding and eating enough food to replenish its energy, a caterpillar returns to its tent, where it leaves a recruiting trail that attracts other hungry tent mates to the food it has discovered and eaten. Even though the chemical composition of the pheromone has been identified, it is still unknown how the exploration and recruiting pathways differ from each other. The chemical recruiting trail of the eastern tent caterpillar is very similar to the pheromone trails used by ants and termites to notify their nest mates to the finding of food sources in their environments. Tent caterpillars empty about half of the energy they consume as fecal pellets, which is believed to be due to the high concentration of nondigestible components in leaves. This results in an enormous amount of waste being produced by a single colony of caterpillars (fecal pellets). The presence of the forest tent caterpillar is most visible during outbreaks of the pest. The aural illusion of rain is created by fecal pellets falling from trees where caterpillars are feeding, creating the sound of rain. There are five to six larvalinstars in the life cycle of a tent caterpillar. A larva’s last instar is believed to eat around 80% of all the food consumed by the animal throughout the course of its entire life cycle. As a result, it is not uncommon for populations of forest tent caterpillars to go undetected until the final instar, when their eating causes considerable defoliation of tree foliage. It takes seven to eight weeks for a caterpillar to evolve from a caterpillar to a fully fledged larval form. In order to spin their cocoons and defend themselves from predators, the caterpillars leave their natal tree when they are fully grown and seek shelter on the ground or beneath the eaves of buildings. They become fully functional adults around two weeks after that. The female moth secretes an apheromone shortly after emerging from the cocoon, which attracts the attention of males in the vicinity. Mated females normally oviposit their complete complement of eggs later that evening, after mating has taken place in the early evening and the female has become fully loaded with eggs. Using a frothy substance known asspumaline, the eggs are arranged around the perimeter of a branch and coated with it. Water-loving spumaline keeps the eggs from drying up and becoming brittle. The coating also serves as a protective layer, reducing the likelihood that parasitic wasps will be able to infect the eggs. The female moth dies shortly after laying her eggs, despite the fact that the male might survive for a week or more. As a result, the whole adult life of a girl may be completed in less than 24 hours. Embryogenesis begins shortly after the egg mass is laid down. Small larvae can be discovered within each egg mass within three weeks or so of hatching. It is not until the next spring that thesepharatelarvae are released from their cocoons. This means that the insect’s enclosed larvae are now considered to be the most resilient of its several developmental phases. Because they are very freeze-tolerant, pharate larvae may survive temperatures as low as -40 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the winter in northern places. The population dynamics of tent caterpillars are boom-or-bust. It is the forest tent caterpillar, which is the most well-known of the outbreak’s species. During outbreaks, the caterpillars can become so numerous that they are capable of defoliating tens of thousands of acres of woodland in a single night. Despite the fact that these outbreaks do not follow genuine cycles in the sense that they occur at regular intervals, outbreaks have been observed in some particularly vulnerable places every 10 years or more, according to the World Health Organization. For more than two to three years, caterpillars are rarely found in large quantities in outbreaks. Parasites and illness are two factors that might bring an outbreak to a conclusion. Occasionally, caterpillar populations fail due to starvation, which occurs when trees are totally defoliated before the caterpillars are fully matured or when the quality of host leaves deteriorates to the point where they are no longer appetizing to the caterpillars themselves. Trees that have been defoliated by caterpillars will normally refoliate and will not suffer any long-term effects. The death of trees or sections of trees may occur in some circumstances following repeated defoliation over a number of seasons, though. When forest tent caterpillars defoliated sugar maple trees that were already stressed from the drought, this resulted.

See also

  • Fall webworm is a North American moth whose larva weaves webs similar to those of the fall webworm.


  • Terrence D. Fitzgerald is a writer and editor who lives in New York City (1995). The Caterpillars of the Tent Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, ISBN 9780801424564
  • Fitzgerald, Terrence D., “Social Caterpillars,” Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, ISBN 9780801424564

External links

  • Savela, Markku, “MalacosomaHübner,” in Savela, Markku, “MalacosomaHübner.” Lepidoptera, as well as a few other types of life. retrieved on 1st July, 2019

Tent Caterpillars – How do I get rid of tent caterpillars?

Wizzie Brown contributed to this article. Tent caterpillars attack a variety of broadleaf trees and shrubs, causing unattractive webs, or tents, to appear on the leaves. When their populations reach a critical mass, the caterpillars can defoliate trees, causing them to develop more slowly. They prey on ornamental and fruit trees, among other things. Early and correct identification of tent caterpillars, knowing their life cycle, and the use of suitable cultural or chemical management strategies are all essential for their eradication from the environment.

The eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, is the most troublesome of the four.

Life Cycle

Female moths lay their egg masses on tree trunks or tiny twigs throughout the late spring to early summer period (Fig. 1). The females of all Texas species, with the exception of the Sonoran tent caterpillar, utilize spumaline, a sticky, foamy substance, to “glue” the eggs to the bark or twigs of trees and shrubs. The spumaline also functions as a protective shell surrounding the egg mass, providing a firm, durable surface. During the majority of the summer, fall, and winter, egg masses linger on the branches of the trees.

  1. Eastern and western tent caterpillars begin feeding on these fresh leaves within a few days of their appearance.
  2. In most cases, the web is situated in the crotch of tiny limbs (Fig.
  3. Because the larvae wander away from their tents to feed on leaves, harm can occur even if the web is located a long distance away from the tents.
  4. These enormous, noticeable webs are created by the eastern and western tent caterpillars.
  5. The larvae molt, or lose their skin, multiple times throughout their development.
  6. The color pattern can also alter from instar to instar depending on the species.
  7. 3).
  8. Between feedings, dozens of caterpillars may assemble on these mats to wait for their next meal.
  9. Protected areas like as the web, under the bark, among dead plant material on the ground, within a curled leaf, or under the eaves of homes are all common locations for spiders to hide.
  10. Generally speaking, cocoons are loosely made of silk with a white or yellowish crystalline component dispersed throughout the whole thing.
  11. Tent caterpillars in their adult form are brown and yellowish moths with two diagonal patterns on the front wings of their bodies (Fig.

4). Their wingspans are around 1 inch in length. They are drawn to lights, like do other moths. A single generation of tent caterpillars occurs once a year in all species. Adults only survive for a few days, during which time they mate, lay eggs, and do not consume any food.


Tent caterpillars in its infancy are brightly colored and grow to be approximately 134 inches long when fully grown. The only lengthy hairs on their body are found around the sides and on the back. Individual species may be distinguished by the colors and patterns on their larvae. If you come across tents with larvae that do not fit the descriptions in Table 1, it is most likely that they are autumn webworm tents. Fall webworms may construct tents throughout the late summer and fall and can have numerous generations per year, depending on the species.


The degree of defoliation, unattractive webs, and nuisance caused by the caterpillars should be taken into consideration when developing a management strategy. It is possible that you may need to utilize a combination of cultural and chemical procedures to achieve the optimum results. Control over one’s culture. During winter pruning, look for egg masses, which show as swellings on tiny, naked branches and are a sign of infestation. When trees are pruned, the tent caterpillar eggs are frequently removed before they develop.

  1. When you discover spider webs on twigs in the spring, prune them as soon as you notice them.
  2. It is not suggested to burn the web or caterpillars since it is quite dangerous.
  3. Remove the dead caterpillars from the ground and dispose of them.
  4. Beneficial insects can help to lower the number of tent caterpillars.
  5. Trichogramma species prey on the eggs of tent caterpillars.
  6. Control through chemical means.
  7. The use of insecticide is pointless if the tent caterpillars have been allowed to feed and develop to completion.

Tents are weather-resistant and will remain in the tree for an extended period of time until they are removed.

Early morning or late evening applications are recommended in order to concentrate the spray on the tents when the caterpillars cluster.

The species that may be sprayed with these oils will be listed on the label of the product.

Some organically generated goods contain active substances such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)varietykurstaki, spinosad, or insecticidal soap, which are all derived from bacteria.

In order for the Bt kurstaki and spinosad to be taken up and consumed by the caterpillars, spray the plant well before applying the substance to the leaves.

Contact-kill insecticides such as insecticidal soap must be applied directly to the caterpillars in order for them to be killed.

Some of these formulations operate when they come into direct contact with the pest, while others may have an oil-based component that is comparable to horticultural (petroleum-based) oils in their composition.

There are several long-lasting, synthetic pesticide solutions available that give quicker and longer-lasting control than most plant-derived insecticides while also working on all phases of the caterpillar’s life cycle.

Bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, esfenvalerate, fluvalinate, permethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, indoxacarb, acephate, and carbaryl are all active chemicals to search for in a pesticide formulation.

Pesticide users are accountable for the impact pesticides have on their own plants or home goods, as well as any difficulties that may arise as a result of pesticide drift from their own properties to the properties or plants of their neighbors.

Also prone to change are the regulations governing the use of insecticides and pesticides. Always read and carefully follow the instructions on the product label for the most dependable instructions.


The author would like to express his gratitude to Bart Drees, Glen Moore, and Kim Schofield for their contributions to the review of this article. Bart Drees provided all of the photographs. Download a printer-friendly version of this publication by clicking on the following link: Caterpillars of the Tent »See more details about Gardening and Landscaping» Do you have a question – or do you require the assistance of an expert? Make contact with the appropriate county office.

Western Tent Caterpillar – Field Guide to Insects and Diseases of AZ and NM Forests

Hosts:Aspen, willows, cottonwoods, and mountainmahoganyFigure 46. Adult western tent caterpillar and egg mass.Symptoms/Signs:Western tent caterpillar is an early season defoliator with feedingdamages typically occurring between May and June. Symptoms includemoderate to complete defoliation of trees; large silken tents onbranches; and presence of larvae in and around the tents. Treesrepeatedly defoliated will have sparse foliage, minor branch dieback,and in some cases, tree mortality.Figure 47. Larva of western tent caterpillar.Maturelarvae are 4 to 5 cm long and vary widely in coloration. Their headsare blue to black and body color patterns are mixtures of black,orange, and blue. Larvae are usually quite hairy.Biology:Larvae overwinter as first instars insideegg masses glued around twigs. Larvae emerge from egg masses inspring and construct silken tents on branches that are used forshelter and molting during the daytime. At night, caterpillars feedoutside of the tents. As the larvae mature, they disperse and becomesolitary feeders. Moths emerge from cocoons and following mating glue egg massesto live twigs that are less than 2 cm in diameter.Figure 48. Tents of western tent caterpillar on aspen.Effects:Heavy defoliation of aspen for a number of years will cause growthloss and branch dieback. Some mortality may also occur during prolongedoutbreaks. Outbreaks, however, are generally short lived, generallylasting 2 to 3 years.Figure 49. Western tent caterpillar larvae and defoliation of aspen on the Carson NF, New Mexico.SimilarInsects and Diseases:Seefall webworm,large aspen tortrixand foliar diseases of aspen.References:3,16,24

All About Eastern Tent Caterpillars

The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) may be the only bug that can be identified solely by the structure of its house rather than its appearance. These gregarious caterpillars reside in silk nests that they construct in the crotches of cherry and apple trees, where they may be seen in large numbers. Eastern tent caterpillars are sometimes mistaken for gypsy moths or even the fall webworm.

What Do They Look Like?

Perhaps the only insects recognizable by their dwellings rather than their outward appearance, eastern tent caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum) are the only ones. Cherries and apples provide the perfect habitat for these gregarious caterpillars, who reside in silk nests built in the crotches of the trees. Caterpillars of the eastern tent are sometimes mistaken for gypsy moths or even the fall webworm.


Kingdom – Animalia Phylum – Arthropoda Class -InsectaOrder -LepidopteraFamily – Lasiocampidae Genus -MalacosomaSpecies -Malacosoma americanum Kingdom – Animalia Phylum – Arthropoda Class -InsectaOrder -LepidopteraFamily – Lasiocampidae Genus -M

What Do They Eat?

Cherry, apple, plum, peach, and hawthorn trees are among the plants where eastern tent caterpillars dine on the leaves. When the caterpillar species Malacosoma americanum is in abundance, the enormous number of caterpillars can defoliate its host trees completely before moving on to less desirable plants to feed on. Adult moths only survive a few days and do not consume any food.

Life Cycle

Eastern tent caterpillars go through a complete metamorphosis, which includes four phases, as do all butterflies and moths:

  1. Eggs- In the late spring, the female oviposits 200–300 eggs, depending on the species. Caterpillars emerge from the egg mass in a few of weeks, but they stay dormant in the egg mass until the next spring, when new leaves grow. During the sixth instar larval stage, the sixth instar larva creates a silken cocoon in a secluded area and pupates within it. The pupal case is brown in color. Adult- Moths fly around in quest of mates throughout the months of May and June, and they only survive long enough to breed.

Special Adaptations and Defenses

During the early spring months, when temperatures are more volatile, larvae emerge. The caterpillars dwell in large groups in silken tents that are meant to keep them warm during cold spells of weather. On cold or wet days, the broadside of the tent faces the sun, and caterpillars may congregate there to warm themselves. Each of the caterpillars’ three daily feeding expeditions begins with a thorough cleaning and replenishment of silk in their tent. In order to fit their growing size and to get away from the accumulating waste of frass, the caterpillars build additional layers to their body as they mature.

As they move through branches and twigs in search of leaves to eat, they leave behind silk trails and pheromones that attract other insects to the area.

Pheromone signals not only warn other caterpillars to the presence of foliage, but they also convey information about the quality of the food available on a certain branch of a plant.

Whenever they sense a threat, the caterpillars leap to their feet and thrash their bodies about.

The residents of the community respond to these motions by imitating them, resulting in an interesting group spectacle to behold. When the caterpillars need to rest between feedings, they return to the shelter of the tent, which also serves as a protection against predators.

Where Do Eastern Tent Caterpillars Live?

It is possible for eastern tent caterpillars to infest the residential landscape, forming tents in ornamental cherry, plum and apple trees, among other species. It is possible that roadside stands of trees will produce adequate wild cherries and crabapples, and that dozens of caterpillar tents will embellish the forest border in this area. Because these early spring caterpillars need on the warmth of the sun to keep their bodies warm, tents would be unusual, if at all, to be seen in wooded places that were shaded.

Malacosoma americanum is a kind of bug that is indigenous to North America.


  • Caterpillar of the eastern tent. The Texas A&M University tent caterpillar is an Eastern tent caterpillar. T. D. Fitzgerald is at the University of Kentucky Agriculture Department. Stephen A. Marshal’s novel The Tent Caterpillars is set in a tent. Insects: A Natural History and Diversity of the Species

6 Fascinating Facts About Tent Caterpillars

It is possible that homeowners who are concerned about the health of their beloved cherry trees would be disappointed to see silk tents sprout in the branches each spring. Tentcaterpillars have the ability to consume practically every leaf on a tree when they congregate in sufficient numbers. However, if you spend a few minutes observing the tent caterpillars in action, you will quickly realize that they are very smart insects. Tent caterpillars are a frequent pest, but these ten intriguing facts about them may make you reconsider your position on them.

Tent caterpillars are gregarious

Tent caterpillars are known to congregate in large groups. Ed Reschke/Getty Images/PhotoLibrary/Getty Images A group of tent caterpillars congregates in a shared silk tent for no reason other than convenience. Tent caterpillars are extremely gregarious creatures! Within the genus Malacosoma, there are 26 species of tent caterpillars that have been identified, and all of them are known to display social activities. The female moth lays 150-250 eggs in a single mass, which is most typically found on the south side of a cherry tree limb, according to the species.

The tent caterpillars’ tent serves as their home base

The caterpillars are more protected from predators such as birds when they are in the tent. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/PhotoLibrary/Johann Schumacher Not allMalacosomacaterpillars construct huge, permanent tents, but those that do do so use their family tent as a base of operations throughout the larval stage of their development. Choosing a spot to build their house is where eastern tent caterpillars begin living their lives. A tree crotch that receives early sun attracts the tiny caterpillars, who subsequently spin silk to contribute to the construction of their tent, which takes many days.

The caterpillars repair and maintain their habitat in preparation for each foraging expedition. In between meals, the caterpillars can take refuge in the tent, which provides them with some protection from predators and allows them to relax.

Tent caterpillars use pheromones to mark trails on their host tree

Caterpillar of the eastern tent. John Macgregor/Getty Images/PhotoLibrary/Getty Images Many insects communicate with one another through the use of chemical markers. In order to communicate with their siblings, eastern tent caterpillars use pheromone trails, which they do in a fairly sophisticated manner. They use a variety of pheromones to distinguish between exploratory trails and recruitment trails. When a wandering caterpillar comes across an exploratory pheromone trail, it knows that another caterpillar is already surveying that branch for food, and it turns away from the trail to find another path.

If you spend enough time observing eastern tent caterpillars, you’ll notice that when a caterpillar gets close to the crotch of a tree branch, it stops and “sniffs,” as if it’s trying to figure out which direction to go.

Tent caterpillars keep each other warm

Eastern tent caterpillars congregate to soak up the rays of the sun. Photograph courtesy of Getty Images/PhotoLibrary/Johann Schumacher During the early spring, when the warm weather hasn’t completely taken hold, eastern tent caterpillars are most active. Temperatures are likely to vary, and evenings can be quite chilly. In order to regulate their body temperature, eastern tent caterpillars engage in behavioral thermoregulation, in which they work together to take active steps. Eastern tent caterpillars may warm themselves by basking in the sunlight on the exterior of their tents if they need to.

When it becomes particularly cold, the eastern tent caterpillars will all huddle together in their silk tent for protection.

In contrast, if the temperature within the tent becomes too high, the caterpillars will go to the shady side of the tent and suspend themselves independently, allowing air to pass between them.

Eastern tent caterpillars can cause abortions in pregnant mares

Tent caterpillars can cause a mare to miscarry her late-term foal if she consumes them. Photographer’s Choice/Bread and Butter courtesy of Getty Images When eastern tent caterpillars are present in the spring grasses, grazing mares can quickly become unwell, causing serious problems for horse owners. However, although being typically innocuous, eastern tent caterpillars are coated in minute hairs known as setae, which may pierce the walls of a mare’s digestive tract, including her intestines.

MRS (mare reproductive loss syndrome) is a disorder in which pregnant mares spontaneously abort their late-term embryos after devouring eastern tent caterpillars (or other caterpillars) (MRLS).

Kentucky horse owners lost more than one-third of their foal pregnancies to MRLS in 2001, according to the Kentucky Horse Council.

And it isn’t just horses who are affected by MRLS. Mules and donkeys can also have their developing offspring aborted if they consume tent caterpillars while they are pregnant.

Tent caterpillar outbreaks are cyclical

Tent caterpillar epidemics occur in cycles, with some years being more severe than others. Photograph by Johann Schumacher for Getty Images These caterpillars, which are endemic to our forests and have voracious appetites, can do significant harm to our forest trees, but our plants are typically able to recover from the damage they cause. When it comes to caterpillar infestations, some years are unquestionably worse than others. Every 9-16 years, the tent caterpillar population reaches a critical mass, causing substantial harm to the trees along their path.

Don’t be alarmed if your favorite cherry or apple tree has suffered a setback this year.


“Horse owners should be on the lookout for the eastern tent caterpillar,” according to the University of Missouri Extension, published on May 17, 2013. accessed on the internet on the 15th of August, 2017. “Tent Caterpillars, Malacsoma spp.,” by Terrence D. Fitzgerald, in Encyclopedia of Entomology, 2nd edition, edited by John L. Capinera and published by John L. Capinera.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Two light-colored stripes cut across the forewing of the adult eastern tent caterpillar moths distinguish them from other moths. The center band between the two lines might be lighter or white in color at times. These moths are similar in size to others in their family, and they have thick, lengthy scales that give them the appearance of being fuzzy. Feathered antennae are found on both males and females. Females are lighter and more golden in color, as well as bigger and more rounded in their wings.

  1. They live in groups in “tents” formed of numerous silken threads in the crotches of host trees, which they construct from the strands.
  2. The inside of the head is dark.
  3. disstria) has black (rather than pale) lines on the forewings, but the forest tent caterpillar (M.
  4. The larvae do not have a continuous line down their backs; instead, there is a light-colored mark on each segment down their backs, with the form of each mark resembling a keyhole, shoeprint, or bowling pin on each segment.
  5. Instead, they merely construct silken mats and recommendations on tree trunks and branches to direct them to and from feeding areas and group meeting areas.

How To Get Rid Of Tent Caterpillars [DETAILS]

The tent caterpillar is a medium-sized moth larva that may be found in large numbers all throughout the world, especially in tropical areas. There are a total of 26 different species. Six of them are native to North America, while one is from Europe. Species of tent caterpillars that are brightly colored These numerous, gregarious animals are typically regarded as pests because to their ability to swiftly defoliate a tiny tree or host plant’s leaves.

Despite this, they are incredibly intriguing to investigate. In this post, we detail three extremely common varieties of tent caterpillars found in North America, as well as provide tips on how to manage and control tent caterpillars.

What Do Tent Caterpillars Look Like?

These insects are easy to identify since they have the following characteristics:

  • A lot of color
  • Quite active during the daylight Large silken tents are erected in the branches of trees, where people assemble.

The appearance of the nests varies from one species to the next depending on the species. Some of the tents are communal tents, where big groups of caterpillars live and eat together in harmony. Some species develop individual tents in a serial fashion as they expand in size, whereas others do not.

What Are The Most Common Species In The United States?

Caterpillars such as the western, eastern, and forest tent caterpillars are often found throughout the United States.

  • It is widespread across the western United States and western Canada as Malacosoma californicum (Lasiocampidae), which is a species of Lepidoptera. In the United States and Canada, the Eastern (Malacosoma americanum), or Fabricius (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae), may be found along the east coasts. Forest – (Malacosoma disstria) (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) – a tough and adaptive butterfly that may be found across the United States and Canada –

There are other varieties of these three species found across North America, but they all have a similar appearance and share many of the same behaviors and life cycles. Caterpillar species from the western and eastern hemispheres often appear in the early spring. While the adult insects are a form of snout moth, it is the larvae that are most noticeable, appearing in enormous groups within bright white tents erected in the crotches of tree trunks. Apple and cherry trees are among the most popular.

Instead, as they crawl ahead, the caterpillars leave a path of webbing behind them.

When Forest Caterpillars are eating, they disperse across a tree.

PinForest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) colony on a tree branch (photo courtesy of Getty Images).

What’s The Difference Between Tent Caterpillars And Fall Webworms?

Despite the fact that tent caterpillars and autumn webworms (Hyphantria cunea) are often confused, it is actually rather simple to distinguish between the two. You should keep in mind that fall webworms construct their nests at the ends of tree branches. In the bends and crotches of trees, tent caterpillars make their nests for the winter. In addition, their season is a little different. Fall webworms are visible later in the summer and into the fall, while tent caterpillars are a springtime pest that can be difficult to identify.

Are Gypsy Moths The Same As Tent Caterpillars?

Tent caterpillars are significantly more abundant than gypsy moth caterpillars, yet they are also far less damaging. Their behaviors are likewise pretty diverse from one another. A good example is that gypsy moth larvae do not construct tents. Gypsy moth larvae are a severe hazard to commercial cranberry production, and they can cause significant damage. It is not uncommon for tent worms to reside on cranberry bushes. In addition, the patterns on gypsy moth caterpillars are quite distinct from those on any other species of tent caterpillar.

Tent caterpillars are often deeper in color and feature a variety of patterns.

Are Tent Caterpillars Invasive?

Tent caterpillars, in contrast to the gypsy moth, are indigenous to North America.

How Long Do Tent Caterpillars Live?

It takes a year for these bugs to complete their life cycle. When comparing the life cycles of the Western Tent Caterpillar and the Eastern Tent Caterpillar to those of the Forest Tent Caterpillar, there is a little difference in their life cycles. The eggs of the Western and Eastern Tent Caterpillar are laid by the female moth in the autumn, and the eggs survive the winter. The larvae hatch in the early spring and find their way to the crotch of host trees, where they weave their little tents to protect themselves.

The caterpillars reach their full size in one to six weeks, depending on the species.

It is during the months of May and June that they begin their journey in search of safe sites to pupate. The process of metamorphosis takes three weeks, and adult moths emerge in June and July, where they mate and lay their eggs, and the cycle begins again.

The Life Stages

It takes a year for these bugs to complete their whole life cycle. Comparing the Western Tent Caterpillar and the Eastern Tent Caterpillar to the Forest Tent Caterpillar, there is a tiny difference in the life cycle of the two species. Female Tent Caterpillars deposit eggs in the autumn for both the Western and Eastern Tent Caterpillars, which hatch and overwinter as larvae. Larvae emerge from their eggs in early spring and find their way to the crotch of host trees, where they spin little tents.

The caterpillars reach their maximum development in a month to six weeks.

In June and July, adult moths emerge from their pupal stage, mate and lay their eggs in order to restart the cycle, which takes three weeks.

Forest Tent Caterpillar Life Cycle Differs Slightly

It takes a year for these bugs to complete their lifecycle. When compared to the Forest Tent Caterpillar, there is a little difference in the life cycle of the Western Tent Caterpillar and the Eastern Tent Caterpillar. The female moth of the Western and Eastern Tent Caterpillar lays eggs in the autumn, and the eggs survive the winter. The larvae hatch in the early spring and find their way to the crotch of host trees, where they spin their little tents. As the larvae develop in size and require more food, the web expands to accommodate them.

During the months of May and June, they begin moving in search of safe pupation sites.

What Does The Tent Caterpillar Turn Into?

Tent caterpillars are transformed into a variety of unremarkable moths. They are a basic reddish brown hue with blurred white lines across the front wings of both the Eastern and Western Tent caterpillar moths, respectively. Forest tent caterpillars and forest tent moths are similar in appearance, but have large brown bands on their wings.

Why Do Tent Caterpillars Build Tents?

Tent caterpillars are transformed into a variety of unremarkable moths. They are a basic reddish brown hue with blurred white lines across the front wings of the Eastern and Western Tent caterpillar moths. Unlike forest tent caterpillars, forest tent moths have broad brown stripes across their bodies.

Why Do Tent Caterpillars Twitch?

When tent caterpillars cluster in large groups, they have a tendency to twitch together. Caterpillars are assumed to have developed this defense mechanism to prevent parasitoid wasps from being able to deposit eggs in or on the caterpillars’ bodies. In addition, the coordinated movement of caterpillars may fool bigger predators, such as birds, by giving the appearance that a group of caterpillars is truly one enormous, hairy creature.

Are Tent Caterpillars Bad?

If their life cycle is not disrupted, a colony of tent caterpillars may fully defoliate a small tree in a short period of time. They can pose a serious threat to young plants and trees, as well as nursery stock. A single colony on one tree does not constitute a significant threat to old trees unless many colonies are allowed to flourish on the same tree.

Despite the fact that the caterpillars do not eat fruit, they do do damage to the fruit that is present on the branches that they defoliate. On limbs that are devoid of leaves, the fruit will not grow correctly. These pests damage a wide range of fruit plants, including the following:

They are also big fans of the following: The Forest Tent caterpillar prefers sugar maple trees, but if there are no sugar maple trees available, it will consume fruit trees and other sorts of trees without hesitation.

Do Tent Caterpillars Damage Trees?

The damage that these bugs do is typically short-lived. Even if all of the leaves of a healthy deciduous tree are eaten, the tree will usually recover. Yet, with their huge and obnoxious silk tents, tent caterpillar populations completely detract from the beauty of a tree. Tent worms are uncommon in commercial orchards that are well-maintained, but they can be found in natural settings and abandoned orchards, among other places. Despite the fact that the damage they do appears to be extensive, they are actually merely minor fruit tree pests.

What Eats A Tent Caterpillar?

In common with other very prolific insects, tent caterpillars are preyed upon by a large number of natural predators. A scrumptious diet of fuzzy, juicy tent caterpillars is enjoyed by a variety of useful animals including parasitoid flies (Tachinid fly), wasps, ground beetles, predatory bugs, birds, and other helpful insects. In the case of the Forest Tent worm, “friendly” flies (Sarcophaga aldrichi) are important predators, as are the following species of insects:

  • Spiders, true bugs, beetles, ants, deer mice, wood frogs, toads, birds, skunks, and even bears are among the creatures that inhabit the forest.

What Will Kill Tent Caterpillars?

In addition to viruses and bacteria, tent caterpillars are susceptible to a wide range of parasites and illnesses. They are particularly vulnerable during periods of rapid population growth. In order to keep their numbers under control, biological management is the most effective method due to the fact that these plentiful tiny animals are susceptible to a wide range of natural dangers. The first step in managing tent worm numbers is to be on the lookout for them. Egg casings, webbing, and tents should all be on the lookout.

  • Just before winter, keep an eye out for egg masses.
  • In the spring, keep an eye out for tents and demolish them as soon as you spot them.
  • A simple broom or stick can be used to sweep them away completely.
  • You might also spot treat by fully soaking the webs with a product such as:
  • Spray with soapy water
  • Spray with natural Neem oil pesticide
  • In fact, vegetable oil in a spray bottle works just well.

It is just necessary to guarantee that the tents are properly saturated and crumpled in order to ensure contact with the real caterpillars In order to reduce tent caterpillar populations, natural management methods and non-pesticide techniques are the most effective options. Make your yard, garden, and orchard a haven for chalcid, ichneumon, and braconid wasps by providing them with food. Caterpillar tents are no match for raucous, cunning, and aggressive birds such as blackbirds and jays, who make quick work of tents full of caterpillars.

You don’t want to lose your tree to a forest fire.

To dispose of items that cannot be burned, place them in a black plastic bag and leave them out in the sun until it is time for trash pickup.

It’s interesting to note that there is an apoem about burning tent caterpillars away with fire! Caterpillars of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) found in a silken tent in the early spring.

Are Pesticides Effective Against Tent Caterpillars?

Tent worms may be treated with Bacillus thuringiensis varkurstaki in the same way as you would treat any other caterpillar (Bt). Apply it early and frequently to ensure that larvae are caught as soon as they emerge from their egg shells. Small caterpillars are particularly susceptible to the effects of Bt powder. You might also experiment with pesticides such as: It’s important to realize that simply spraying these pesticides on the tents will not provide any benefit. In order to use an insecticide, you must first unzip the tent and spray the inside with it; but, if you’re going to go to all that bother, you may as well just remove the tent to prevent the possibility of poisoning beneficial bugs and birds along with the harmful ones.

Does Soap And Water Kill Tent Caterpillars?

A soap and water spray, as well as submerging individual caterpillars in a pail of soapy water, will kill the majority of caterpillars in their path. Due to the fact that pesticides are not particularly effective against grown caterpillars, this can be a highly efficient method of dealing with them when they first start to wander around. How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars (with Pictures)

Tent Caterpillars Are Everywhere!

You’ll never be able to completely eliminate tent caterpillars from your garden, and you wouldn’t want to. They are a vital source of nutrition for the natural garden assistants that live nearby. Each year, their numbers fluctuate, and every few years, there is a significant increase in their population size. While their ravenous, tree-stripping behaviors, as well as their invasive wandering, might be a nuisance, it is comforting to know that they are not considered to be major pests. When they begin to travel about and cover surfaces other than trees, they can create a commotion and create a disturbance in the neighborhood.

Keep a tight eye on your trees and destroy any egg clusters that form as soon as they appear.

You may not be able to entirely remove tent worms, but if you pay special attention to detail and work in collaboration with nature, you may considerably lower their population.

Do tent caterpillars turn into butterflies?

Asked in the following category: General The most recent update was made on April 23, 2020. Social conduct is defined as follows: Tent caterpillars are some of the most gregarious of all the larvae. In late spring or early summer, the mother moth deposits her eggs in a single batch, which is then consumed by the larvae. They remain dormant until the following spring, when they gnaw their way out of the eggs at the exact moment when the buds of the host tree begin to emerge.

Unlike tent caterpillars, which build their tents in the nodes and branches of a tree’s limbs, fall webworms construct their webs around the leaves and tiny branches at the extremities of the limbs. Caterpillar in a tent.

Tent caterpillars
Subfamily: Lasiocampinae
Genus: Malacosoma Hübner, 1822

The second question is, do tent caterpillars transform into gypsy moths? No, it is not the dreaded invading insect, the agypsy moth, which was introduced in Medford, Massachusetts, in the late 1800s. It is the Easterntent caterpillaror Malacosoma americanum (Fabricius, 1793) that is sometimes mistaken with gypsy moths or bagworms, but it is not. Caterpillars are extremely despised by the general public. Simply put, what sort of butterfly do tent caterpillars develop into is a mystery. The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a species of moth belonging to the Lasiocampidae family, which includes the tent caterpillars and the lappet moths.

It is a tent caterpillar, which is a sociable species that builds community nests in the limbs of trees to protect itself.

Foresttent caterpillars normally infest the city once every 10 to 15 years, but when an infestation occurs, it can endure for two to three years in a single location.

How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars

Tent caterpillars are the larvae of various moth and butterfly species (mentioned below), which are referred to as a group by their common name. These caterpillars, which are found throughout most of the United States and Canada, reproduce quickly and have the ability to defoliate a significant number of deciduous trees and shrubs in a short period of time. These pests are frequently seen on wayside trees and in abandoned orchards. Aside from defoliation, the larvae build big unattractive webs, or tents, in the crotches of tree limbs, which are difficult to remove.

Despite the fact that tent damage is ugly, infestations of insects seldom endanger the life of trees.


The Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a species of caterpillar that may be found east of the Rocky Mountains and north into southern Canada. In their full developed state, caterpillars are sparsely hairy and black in appearance, with a row of pale blue markings on either side of their bodies. They may be distinguished by a white stripe running down the middle of their backs, which helps to identify them. Adults are reddish brown moths that are 1-1/2 inches in length and have two white stripes running diagonally across each forewing.

  1. The Western Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum) is a pest that may be found in the northern and western regions of the United States as well as in adjacent Canadian territory.
  2. Approximately 1-1/2 inches in length, adult moths are orange-brown in color with two faint yellow lines on the underside of the wings.
  3. Malocsoma disstria is a forest tent caterpillar that may be found across the United States and Canada anywhere hardwoods can be found in the forest.
  4. americanum are similar in appearance to the adult, but instead of a solid line running down their back, they have a series of keyhole-shaped white dots.
  5. Wild cherry, aspen, maple, oak, and hawthorn are among the plants that serve as hosts.
  6. Webworms are known to feed on over 85 different types of trees and are found across North America and Mexico.
  7. One-inch-long caterpillars are coated with long hairs and range in color from yellow to green, with a black stripe along the back and a yellow stripe on each side of the body.

The color of their heads is either red or black. Adult moths (1 inch in length) are pure white in color with black markings on the wings, which are characteristic of the species.

Life Cycle

The egg stage is where the majority of tent caterpillar species overwinter. Egg masses ranging in color from dark brown to gray and holding 150 to 400 eggs are adhered to the short twigs of trees and bushes. Hatching takes occur around the time when leaf buds begin to open, which is normally in the early spring months. They are social creatures who quickly build silken tents, which they use as a haven during the early morning and evening hours, as well as during rainy spells, to protect themselves from the elements.

The larvae reach full maturity around six weeks after hatching and five instars following that time period (up to 2 inches long, sparsely hairy).

Adult moths emerge around two weeks later and deposit the overwintering eggs within a short period of time.

Note: When larvae begin to travel to sheltered regions in order to pupate, they can become a nuisance.

How to Control

  1. Prevent the larvae from starting to eat by scraping off and discarding overwintering egg masses and tearing the protective tents out by hand before they start to feed. With this method, you may restrict caterpillar mobility and deny them access to eating locations. Sticky Tree Bands or Tree Tanglefoot Pest Barrier are two options for preventing pest infestations. The naturally occurring soil-dwelling bacteriumBacillus thuringiensis, often known as Bt-kurstaki, is highly powerful against all species of inch worms. At the first indication of damage, use a spray that is simple to apply to knock out the worms and safeguard the foliage. It is safe to use BTKsprays near dogs and children since they do not damage honey bees or birds
  2. Spinosad, a biological substance developed from fermentation, is also extremely useful in a variety of applications. In fact, it’s the active ingredient in Monterey Garden Insect Spray, a product that has been classified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program and listed for organic use by the Organic Materials Review Institute
  3. AzaMaxcontains azadirachtin, which is the key insecticidal ingredient found in neem oil. This very powerful spray interferes with the growth and development of nuisance insects while also acting as a repellant and anti-feedant. In addition to being non-toxic to honey bees and many other helpful insects, it should only be used as a last resort for dealing with bug infestations. Natural pesticides, which are derived from plants that contain insecticidal qualities, have less adverse side effects than synthetic chemicals and degrade more quickly in the environment.

Note: Although more than 80 species of predators and parasites have been identified in the United States, none of them are now available for purchase on the market. During the majority of the year, these insects serve a crucial role in keeping pest populations under control. As a result, extreme caution must be exercised while spraying pesticides in order to avoid causing harm to these important species.

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