What Leaves Do Eastern Tent Caterpillars Eat

All About Eastern Tent Caterpillars

In tight quarters, we recommend this size tent. Additional room is provided by the 1530 frame tent rental, which is 450 square feet in size. At three 60-inch round tables, two 48-inch round tables, or six 8-foot banquet tables, it can easily accommodate 36 guests. Stakes, water barrels, concrete on asphalt, concrete, or grass are used to secure frame tents in place. With no center poles in the centre, frame tents provide uncluttered interiors. We need a space that is 18’x33’x16′ with a 3-foot perimeter staked out.

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  4. We are pleased to call OUPS prior to installation in order to schedule your installation date 96 hours in advance of your arrival.
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What Do They Look Like?

Caterpillars of the eastern tent species feast on the leaves of several popular decorative landscape trees, causing their presence to be a source of concern for many homeowners. In reality, they seldom cause enough harm to a healthy plant to cause it to die, and if you’re looking for an intriguing bug to see, this is the one to look for. Several hundred caterpillars live in a communal tent constructed in the crotch of tree branches, where they are protected from the elements. The eastern tent caterpillars, which are models of cooperation, live and work in peace with one another until they are ready to pupate.

They grow to be almost 2 inches long and have noticeable hairs down the sides of their bodies by the time they reach their last instar.

Broken lines of brown and yellow flow along the sides, accented by oval specks of blue in the center of each line.

After three weeks, Malacosoma americanummoths are able to break away from their cocoons. They lack the vibrant colors of many other moths and look nearly dull in comparison. When examined closely, two parallel lines of cream may be seen across the wings, which are tan or reddish brown in color.


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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Whenever they sense a threat, the caterpillars leap to their feet and thrash their bodies about.
  4. 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.

The eastern tent caterpillar may be found across the eastern United States, as far west as the Rocky Mountains, and as far south as southern Canada. 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

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

ENTFACT-423: Eastern Tent Caterpillar|Download the PDF version of this fact sheet

by Ric Bessin, Extension Specialist University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

The eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, is a North American insect that is a nuisance to both humans and animals. Populations change from year to year, with epidemics happening every few years or even more often. This bug is a nuisance in the late spring and early summer because of the defoliation of trees, the construction of unattractive silken nests in trees, and the presence of roaming caterpillars crawling over plants, sidewalks, and roadways. Eastern tent caterpillar nests are most usually seen on wild cherry, apple, and crabapple trees, but they can also be found on other trees such as hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum.

Figure 1. An eastern tent caterpillar.

It is endemic to North America and is known as the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum). Populations change from year to year, with epidemics happening every few years or even more often. This insect is a nuisance in the late spring and early summer because of the defoliation of trees, the construction of unattractive silken nests in trees, and the wandering caterpillars that crawl across plants, sidewalks, and roadways. Besides wild cherry, apple, and crabapple, eastern tent caterpillar nests can be found on hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, and pear trees, as well as on plum and apricot trees.


The eastern tent caterpillar overwinters as an egg in a mass of 150 to 400 eggs, which is the size of a grapefruit. In this case, the masses are covered with a glossy, black varnish-like substance and wrap branches that are approximately the size of a pencil or less in diameter.

Figure 2. Eastern tent caterpillar egg masses are wrapped around small twigs.

Overwintering as an egg mass of 150 to 400 eggs, the eastern tent caterpillar overwinters as a caterpillar. They are encircled by branches that are approximately the size of a pencil or smaller in diameter and are covered with a slick, black varnish-like substance.

Figure 3. An eastern tent caterpillar nest.

A row of oval blue dots on the sides of the caterpillars, which are black with a white stripe down the back, brown and yellow lines along the sides, and a black and white stripe down the rear. In order to consume the leaves, the larvae enlarge the web, which eventually grows to be a foot or more in length. They are fully developed and 2 to 2-1/2 inches in length after 4 to 6 weeks of development. At this point, they begin to disperse from the nest in search of safe places in which to construct a cocoon on their own.

Figure 4. An adult male eastern tent moth.

The adult moth emerges from the cocoon around 3 weeks after the cocoon is laid. In coloration, the moth is reddish-brown with two faint stripes running diagonally across the forewings of each of its wings. Female moths mate and begin to deposit eggs on short branches after mating. The eggs will hatch in the spring of the following year. Every year, just one generation is produced.


  • In most years, natural enemies play a significant role in lowering the population of eastern tent caterpillars on the ground. Caterpillars are regularly parasitized by a variety of small braconid, ichneumonid, and chalcid wasps, which can be found in abundance in the wild. Some predators, as well as a few illnesses, contribute to the control of their populations. This, in part, explains why population levels fluctuate from year to year
  • Prevention and early management are therefore critical. The removal and destruction of egg masses from ornamentals and fruit trees over the winter months helps to significantly lessen the problem the following spring. Small tents may be easily removed and destroyed by hand in the early spring months. It is possible to prune out larger tents that are then destroyed or removed by twisting the nest around the end of a stick. It is not advisable to burn the tents out with a torch because this might cause significant harm to the tree. It is possible to kill young caterpillars by spraying them with a pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensisvarkurstaki. Carbaryl and malathion are two more pesticides to consider. It is more difficult to destroy larvae under tents because they are shielded beneath the webbing.

Date of last revision: 11/19 CAUTION! The pesticides recommended in this book are only approved for use in Kentucky, United States of America. Some goods may not be legal to use in your state or nation, depending on where you live. It is recommended that you consult with your local county agent or regulatory authority before applying any pesticide listed in this article.

As a reminder, ALWAYS READ AND COMPLY WITH LABELED INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE! Images courtesy of Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Entomology, with the exception of the tent in the tree shot, which is courtesy of R. L. Anderson, USDA Forest Service, copyright 1995.

Eastern Tent Caterpillars and Forest Tent Caterpillars on Trees

Crabapple is host to eastern tent caterpillars. Photograph courtesy of David L. Clement of the University of Maryland and Bugwood.org

See also:  How To Make A Canvas Wall Tent

Key points

  • The eastern tent caterpillar’s webs are a frequent sight in the springtime anywhere wild cherry trees may be found in abundance. The presence of this insect is first detected by the appearance of unattractive webs in the forks of trees. The caterpillars spend the night hiding in the webs and feeding among the leaves during the day. Cherry trees are their preferred host plant, and they are often the beginning point for outbreaks of eastern tent caterpillars in the United States. After the caterpillars have devoured all of the cherry leaves, they will frequently move to other neighboring trees and munch on their leaves as well. Crabapples and hawthorns in bloom are routinely targeted for destruction. In some locations, large outbreaks of peach, plum, witch hazel, rose, beech, birch, willow, and poplar trees may occur every ten years on trees such as peach, plum, witch hazel, rose, beech, birch, willow, and poplar

Egg mass of the eastern tent caterpillar. Photo courtesy of Brian Kunkel of the University of Delaware and Bugwood.org

Life cycle

  • The egg mass of the eastern tent caterpillar. Credit: Bugwood.org/photo/Brian Kunkel/University of Delaware

Eastern tent caterpillar (right) has a white stripe, but forest tent caterpillar (left) has keyhole-shaped white dots on its wings. Photo courtesy of Ronald S. Kelley of the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation and Bugwood.org

Forest tent caterpillar

The forest tent caterpillar differs from the eastern tent caterpillar in that it has a sequence of white dots along the back (as shown in the photo above), rather than a complete white stripe. Unlike wild cherry, it does not build a tent, and favours oak and other shade trees above other types of trees. The life cycle of the western tent caterpillar is quite similar to that of the eastern tent caterpillar.


Caterpillars have the ability to defoliate whole cherry trees in extreme epidemics. However, defoliation typically happens early enough in the season for wild cherries to replace the eaten leaves with new ones, preventing the trees from succumbing completely. Other tree species, on the other hand, may be destroyed because they do not have enough time to establish a fresh set of leaves for food production and storage, which is necessary for winter survival. The larvae of the eastern tent caterpillar.

Cultural control

  • As far as is practicable, wild cherry trees should be removed from hedgerows and fields next to properties that contain valuable ornamentals that are vulnerable to tent caterpillar infestation (such as blooming crabapple and cherry trees). The dormant season is the best time to cut away and kill twigs that have egg masses on them. To remove the expanding tents with their caterpillars, strong gloves might be worn by individuals who are not frightened by the prospect of ripping them out.

Biological control

As soon as the silk tents are visible in the early spring, apply Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) to the crop if spraying is necessary. It is a naturally occurring pesticide that is solely effective against caterpillars. Bt is completely non-toxic to people and animals. It has to be sprayed on the leaves that the caterpillars will be feeding on. Bt must be used in April since only juvenile caterpillars are extremely vulnerable to this pesticide at this time of year. Thuricide is marketed under a variety of brand names, including Dipel, Caterpillar Attack, Biotrol, and others, and is available in several forms.


The use of trade names does not imply sponsorship on the part of the University of Maryland Extension staff.

Eastern tent caterpillars

  • In the months of May and June, eastern tent caterpillars can be seen on fruit trees such as apple, chokecherry, crabapple, plum, and cherry. The larvae eat on leaves, which can cause trees to become defoliated. The larvae create a visible web or ‘tent’ at the fork of the branches, which is visible to the naked eye. When the caterpillar population is great, the tree is covered with webbing and defoliated
  • Otherwise, the tree remains healthy. The health of the tree is often not harmed by these caterpillars.

How to identify eastern tent caterpillars

  • The larvae are hairy and have blue, black, and orange patterns on their bodies, as well as a white stripe along the back. Most of their bodies are smooth, but they have a sequence of hairs that protrude from the sides of their bodies. When completely developed, they measure two inches in length.

Damage caused by eastern tent caterpillars

Caterpillar tents on a tree that has been defoliated In the day, eastern tent caterpillars graze on tree leaves, but at night and during wet weather, they will stay in their tents to protect themselves. Caterpillars and tent caterpillars of the eastern hemisphere

  • The tents are modest at start, but they will grow in size and become rather conspicuous as time goes on. Healthy, well-established trees can withstand the feeding of the eastern tent caterpillar. Their feeding habits and webs are purely aesthetic problems that have no impact on the trees’ overall look. Young trees, as well as diseased and stressed trees, are more susceptible to injury. are more vulnerable to feeding harm and may require additional safeguards
  • And

How to protect your trees from eastern tent caterpillars

Keep an eye out for the caterpillars returning to their tents at the end of the day or when it starts to rain.

  • At the end of the day or when it rains, keep an eye out for the caterpillars returning to their tents.

Using pesticides

If you intend to apply insecticides, wait until the caterpillars are less than one inch in length or less. When they reach their full developed size (two inches), it is possible that the pesticides will no longer have any impact.

Consider utilizing a pesticide that has a low impact on the environment when making your pesticide selection. The following are examples of items that may be used to manage caterpillars:

  • It is necessary to physically touch the insects when using residual insecticides (Spinosad) or insecticidal soap (insecticidal soap), and it may be necessary to repeat the treatment if there is no residual action. If the tree is in bloom, Bacillus thuringiensisis a suitable choice because it will not hurt visiting honey bees and other pollinators.

DISCLAIMER: The mention of a pesticide or the application of a pesticide label is solely for educational reasons. Always read and follow the pesticide label recommendations that are connected to the pesticide container that you are currently working with. Keep in mind that the label is the law. In 2018, a review was conducted.

Food for caterpillars, food for birds: Cherry trees and Eastern tent caterpillars, Malacosoma americanum — Bug of the Week

The eastern tent caterpillar is a stunning creature, with blue stripes and patches on the sides and a white stripe along the middle of the back to distinguish it from its competitors. The return of eastern tent caterpillars is heralded by the blooming of forsythia. Even while the forsythia’s vivid yellow blooms herald the arrival of spring, they also herald the arrival of an outstanding defoliator known as the eastern tent caterpillar. Since last summer, this herbivore has survived by laying eggs in large numbers on the short branches of cherry, apple, and crabapple trees, among other fruit trees.

  1. Thousands of tiny caterpillars were produced from egg masses that looked like Styrofoam and contained as many as 300 eggs apiece.
  2. Larvae construct little silken tents over the egg mass and the surrounding branch to protect themselves from predators.
  3. Pheromones, which are chemical trail markers, are deposited by the caterpillars when they return to their tent after eating.
  4. During the month of April, the larvae’s tents develop in size.
  5. Caterpillars returning to the tent from a meal pass hungry caterpillars on their way to eat fragile leaves along the silk route.
  6. Brothers and sisters from the same egg mass or from neighboring egg masses frequently participate in group activities like as communal foraging and the expansion of their magnificent tent, which they built for themselves.
  7. Besides providing shelter against predatory or parasitic insects, their silken dwellings may also give some protection from the elements.

As soon as the larval feeding is through, the grownup caterpillars begin to travel and seek for safe havens like as cracks in loose bark where they may construct silken cocoons.

The larvae leave the tree and travel the land in search of protective areas beneath logs or leaves or stones, as well as under man-made structures, where they will construct yellowish or white silken cocoons.

They mate and deposit egg masses on the tiny branches of rosaceous trees such as cherry, apple, and crab apple.

What is the best way to tell whether eastern tent caterpillars are a hazard to your trees?

A little stand of wild cherry trees that is constantly plagued with eastern tent caterpillars provided the inspiration for this week’s Bug of the Week photo gallery.

Egg masses resemble rigid foam collars that have been coated with a shiny varnish-like substance and fully wrap twigs and tiny branches, according to the description.

On a chilly or gloomy day (when the caterpillars tend to stay in their nests rather than going out to feed), tents and their inhabitants can be removed with a gloved hand and disposed of in a trash bag.

Flames are extremely harmful to the bark of a tree and should never be used on one.

Another solution may appeal to you if, on the other hand, you want to let Mother Nature take her course and can live with the presence of caterpillars in your garden.

Caterpillars are a vital source of protein for birds in the spring, both during the development of eggs within their bodies and afterwards, when the eggs hatch and the ravenous broods require fresh meat to survive.

If you wish to safeguard your valued trees from defoliation by tent caterpillars while also assisting your local birds, you may simply trim away the afflicted branches, tents and all, and transplant them to a neighboring feral cherry or a nearby wild cherry.

Tent caterpillars are voracious eaters, and they may wreak havoc on small and even huge trees.

While trees may rebound and produce a second flush of leaves, the recurrent defoliation of these trees is certain to have a negative impact on them.

The active components Bacillus thuringiensis(Bt) or spinosad, which are commonly found in pesticides licensed for use against caterpillars, can give good control of these small leaf eaters for those who want to do it themselves.

Take extra precautions if plants are in flower or if helpful pollinators are around.

See also:  How Much Does A Wedding Tent Cost

Naturally occurring predators, parasites, and viruses are generally able to decrease tent caterpillar populations to insignificant levels after only a few years of high caterpillar abundance.

To find out what these fascinating herbivores are up to this week, get out to the garden and take a look around.


This episode was inspired by the fantastic books “The Tent Caterpillars” by Terrence Fitzgerald and “Managing Insects and Mites on Woody Landscape Plants” by John A. Davidson and Michael J. Raupp, both of which can be found on Amazon.com and in libraries everywhere. Visit the following websites for further information about eastern tent caterpillars:

The return of tent caterpillars: What’s it means for your yard?

Bud break does not just herald the advent of flowers and foliage; it also heralds the emergence of tent caterpillars from their cocoons. Troops of these caterpillars may completely cover tree branches with their silk tents in as little as a few weeks. Is it necessary for you to be concerned about them? Continue reading to find out! Caterpillar tents are a common type of western tent. These tents are commonly found in the bends of large branches on trees and medium-sized bushes, although they can also be seen on the ground.

  • There are three species of tent caterpillar that may be found in Indiana: the Forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria), the Western tent caterpillar (Malacosoma californicum), and the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma elatior) (M.
  • All three species dwell in groups of anything from 40 to 200 individuals, and they remain together until just before they pupate, at which point they split off.
  • They are not particularly gregarious, although they will leave pheromone trails leading to trees that have rich food sources.
  • Below you’ll find a few of ways for distinguishing them from other species.
  • If a tent caterpillar’s body is coated in fuzzy hairs, it is not a tent caterpillar; if it is smooth or spikey, it is not a tent caterpillar.
  • These tufts are absent in tent caterpillars.
  • If the caterpillar you’re looking at doesn’t exhibit any of these characteristics, it’s most likely not a tent caterpillar at all.

slate blue with a pair of black stripes, and C.



Elizabeth Barnes.

Hoff, C.

Hoff What exactly do they eat?

They are particularly fond of plants belonging to the Rosaceae family, such as cherry, apple, and chokecherry, among others.

What kind of harm do they cause?

Tent caterpillars typically defoliate only a few branches and are only actively feeding for a few weeks at a time.

However, if the tree is defoliated for a number of years in a row or is subjected to another stressor such as drought, it may suffer branch loss or even death.

If you decide that you want to get rid of tent caterpillars from your trees, you have a variety of choices to choose from.

Wait until the majority of the caterpillars have gathered in their tent before removing the tent from the tree and placing it in a bag to be frozen for later use.

Because their hairs might create an allergic response in some people, you may wish to use gloves when removing them off their tree.

If you believe you’ve discovered tent caterpillars but aren’t sure, please contact the author or post your find oniNaturalistorBugGuidefor ID assistance!

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum (Fabricius) (Lepidoptera: Lasciocampidae), tent caterpillar of the eastern hemisphere Drees captured this image. Caterpillar with the common name “Eastern tent caterpillar” Malacosoma americanum is the scientific name for this species (Fabricius) Order:Lepidoptera Description: They are brown and yellowish in color with two diagonal lines on the forewings of the adult tent caterpillar moth, which has a 1-inch wingspread. Caterpillars (larvae) can grow to be more than 1-12 inches in length.

  • They are distinguished by a solid white line running down the middle of their backs.
  • At night and during rainy spells, larvae construct a dense silken web, which is commonly found in the crotch of little limbs and which serves as a safe haven for them.
  • Forest tent caterpillar,M.
  • It does not build a tent and can be found on a variety of hosts, however oaks are the preferred host in Texas, according to the species.
  • californicum (Packard), makes huge tents on a variety of trees and plants, including oaks and wild plums, and may be found throughout the western United States.
  • The Sonoran tent caterpillar, M.
  • Caterpillars have one black segment on their back, but they do not have any white markings.

Fall webworms construct loose silken webs surrounding the leaves on which they are eating, rather than thick webs in the crotches of branches where they are leaving to feed, as they do in the spring.


took the photograph.

The larvae hatch in the early spring, just as the plants are beginning to leaf out (mid-February to mid-March).

Due to the fact that tent caterpillars only produce one generation each year, all activity is generally completed by May or June.

Caterpillars have mouthparts that are designed for chewing.

Eastern tent caterpillars love the fruits of cherries, plums, peaches, apples, hawthorn, and other similar trees and shrubs.

Leaving their tents to feed on leaves, caterpillars may swiftly defoliate whole parts of a tree in short periods of time.

Adult moths are drawn to lights and can be found in large numbers, although they only live for a few days before dying.

You may also contact your local Texas A M AgriLife Extension Service agent or look for other state Extension offices for further information. Literature citations: Jackman 1988; Metcalfe and colleagues 1962.

Malacosoma americanum – Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Roses, in particular, but also other trees and bushes, provide food for caterpillars. Tent on the Eastern Side Caterpillars are most often associated with the greyish-white tents of silk webbing that appear in the forks of trees in the spring, which are created by caterpillars. This species is a native caterpillar, and although they consume the leaves of the trees and may cause defoliation in some trees during periods of high population, they are not damaging to the plants in the long run. (The National Park Service provides a lot of information about these caterpillars that is quite useful.) The trees are seldom killed, unless they have been damaged by another factor such as disease.

  • Curious cuckoos eat tent caterpillars because their hairy bodies don’t disturb them, and they aren’t troubled by the caterpillars’ hairy bodies.
  • 11/2/2008 An even closer look at the eggs The caterpillars construct a web nest in the fork of the tree shortly after hatching, about the same time as the leaves begin to emerge.
  • A caterpillar’s nest — on the 25th of May, 2008.
  • Caterpillars on the exterior of their nest – Friday, May 25th, 2008.
  • On the 6th of May, 2010, a closer look at the same mass of larvae.
  • 6/30/20106/30/20107/3/2011 This article is really useful, as it contains a great deal of information regarding the life cycle of Eastern Tent Caterpillars.

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 yellowish in color, and they are bigger and have more rounded wings than males.

They live in groups in “tents” formed of numerous silken threads in the crotches of host trees, which they construct from the strands.

The head is black.Similar species: The closely related forest tent caterpillar (M.

disstria) has not.

Additionally, the communal larvae of that species do not construct tents for themselves. 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.

Eastern tent caterpillar – Wikipedia

Eastern tent caterpillar
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Lasiocampidae
Genus: Malacosoma
Species: M. americanum
Binomial name
Malacosoma americanum(Fabricius, 1793)
  • Bombyx americanaFabricius, 1793
  • Bombyx americana Bombyx pensylvanica (Guérin-Méneville)
  • Bombyx pensylvanica (Guérin-Méneville)
  • Walking stick (Clisiocampa decipiens)Walker, 1855
  • B. frutetorum Boisduval, 1869
  • Bombyx frutetorum

Caterpillar of the Eastern Tent (Malacosoma americana). Caterpillar Moth is a type of moth that caterpillars feed on (Malacosoma americana) The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a species of moth belonging to the familyLasiocampidae, sometimes known as tent caterpillars or lappet moths. It is found in the eastern United States. It is univoltine, meaning that it produces just one generation per year. It’s an atent caterpillar, a sociable species that builds communal nests in the limbs of trees to protect its young.

  • Most of the time, the moths oviposit on trees in the plant familyRosaceae, mainly cherry (Prunus) and apple (Malus) (Malus).
  • The blue and white hues are structural colors, which are produced by the selective filtering of light by microtubules that form on the cuticle’s surface.
  • In late spring or early summer, the mother moth deposits her eggs in a single batch, which is then consumed by the larvae.
  • In just three weeks, fully grown caterpillars may be seen within the eggs, indicating that embryogenesis has proceeded quickly.
  • When the caterpillars emerge from their eggs, they immediately begin constructing an asiliketent structure.
  • Under field conditions, the caterpillars eat three times a day: immediately before dawn, in the middle of the day, and in the evening after sunset, depending on the species.
  • During the final instar, the caterpillars exclusively feed at night, which is an exception to the general pattern of feeding during this stage.
  • After reaching the end of their life cycle, the caterpillars scatter and each builds a cocoon in a safe location.
  • They are exclusively nocturnal, and they begin flying just after dusk, returning to their resting place within a few hours after dawn.
  • Upon detecting predators or parasitoids, tent caterpillars thrash their bodies rapidly in the anterior section of their bodies, just like many other species of social caterpillars do.
  • Fortachinid flies, wasps, and other tiny parasitoids that would deposit eggs on or in the body of the caterpillar, such displays serve as a moving target.

A set of caterpillars lying on the surface of the tent’s roof is referred to as anaposematicdisplay. Few birds, with the exception of cuckoos, are attracted to the hairy caterpillars. Cherry leaves contain cyanogenic compounds, and when disturbed, the caterpillars secrete cyanide-laced fluids.

Tents and temperature

The tent constructed by this species is among the biggest ever constructed by a tent caterpillar. It is built in the crotch of the host tree and is often placed such that the broadest wall faces southeast, allowing it to benefit from the early sunlight. It is customary for the caterpillars to attach silk to the surface of the building at the beginning of each of their daily activity periods. After a period of time, the silk is placed down with a tiny amount of strain, which finally causes the newly spun layer of silk to split from the next one.

  1. They will be able to enter and depart the tent through the apertures.
  2. Light has a significant impact on the caterpillars’ ability to spin silk, and they spend the bulk of their time spinning silk on the face of the tent that is the most lighted.
  3. Caterpillars continue to grow and enlarge their tent until they reach the end of their larval stage of development.
  4. The tents may be used for a variety of purposes.
  5. The increased humidity within the tent may aid in the process of molting.
  6. Because the weather in the early spring is frequently chilly, the caterpillars rely on the heat of the sun to raise their body temperatures to levels that allow them to digest their food and grow stronger.
  7. Early instars are dark in color, and their bodies are well-suited for absorbing heat.

Their longsetae also aid in the prevention of convective heat losses.

The tents serve as little greenhouses, capturing and retaining the warmth of the morning light, helping the caterpillars to warm up more quickly than they would if they were left outside.

Because they are prone to overheating, the aggregation disintegrates once the temperature is reached that is acceptable.

They may also congregate on the outside of the shaded side of the tent and hang from the tips of their abdomens in order to increase convective heat loss and cooling throughout the structure.

Although there is no radiant heat source present, the temperature in the inside of a closely packed caterpillar population can be several degrees above ambient temperature even when the caterpillars have been freshly fed.

However, it is not apparent if this modest amount of heat gain has a major impact on the rate of their development.


Tent caterpillars exude silk from their aspinneret wherever they walk, and paths that are regularly traversed eventually become dotted with visible silk tracks. When the caterpillars move about the tree, they tend to stick to the pathways that have been laid out for them. They pull their abdomens down the paths, drawing down pheromones in the process. In addition to constructing recruiting trails, caterpillars that locate food may also overmarkethe exploration paths that they follow back to the tent.

A single successful forager has the ability to attract the entire colony to a food source.

Caterpillars quickly follow the traces left by this chemical, even leaving their own trails in favor of the fake trails created by the chemical in certain cases.

Pest status

Due to its ability to defoliate attractive trees, the eastern tent caterpillar is considered a pest of significant significance. Damaged trees, on the other hand, often recover and refoliate within a few weeks after being struck.


Horses are poisoned by the eastern tent caterpillar, which is found in eastern North America. However, the specific mechanism by which the caterpillar causes abortions in horses has not yet been established. The feeding of eastern tent caterpillars to pregnant mares has been proven to cause them to abort in laboratory tests. The caterpillars of this species frequently feed on the highly cyanogenicblack cherrytree (Prunus serotina), and it was once believed that the mares aborted as a result of the cyanide they drank along with the caterpillars.

That hypothesis, on the other hand, was found to be false.

It was hypothesized that these fragments could facilitate the passage of infectious agents from the horse’s gut into its bloodstream and then onto its placenta, resulting in abortion of the mare.


  • The Tent Caterpillars is a 1995 book written by Terrence D. Fitzgerald. Cornell University Press
  • Fullard, James H
  • Napoleone, Nadia
  • Cornell University Press (2001). “Diel flight periodicity and the development of auditory defenses in the Macrolepidoptera” is the title of a paper published in the journal “Macrolepidoptera” (PDF). 349–368 in Animal Behaviour, volume 62, number 2. The number to cite is 10.1006/anbe.2001.1753.S2CID53182157. On 2007-06-15, a PDF version of this document was made available for download.

External links

  • Bagworm, Fall Webworm, or Eastern Tent Caterpillar: what’s the difference? The date was August 18, 2001. Sandra Mason is a University of Illinois Extension specialist in agriculture. It was accessed on May 31, 2010. Terrence D. Fitzgerald’s work on the eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is available online.

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

Sixteen species of tent caterpillars have been described, six of which are found in North America and the rest in Eurasia. Tent caterpillars are moderately sized caterpillars, ormothlarvae, that belong to the genus Malacos. Tent caterpillars are members of the familyLasiocampidae and are found in the genus Malacos. Some species are thought to have subspecies as well, and they are frequently referred to as pests because of their proclivity for defoliating tree foliage. They are among the most gregarious of any caterpillars, and they display a variety of interesting activities.

A single large tent is typically occupied throughout the larval stage by some species, such as the eastern tent cattter,Malacosoma americanum, and the caterpillar of the small eggar moth,Eriogaster lanestris, whereas others construct a series of small tents that are sequentially abandoned by others (for example, the eastern tent caterpillar,Malacosoma americanum).

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

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.

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).

Caterpillars may regulate their internal body temperatures by traveling from one compartment to another within their body.

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.

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.

The caterpillars return to the tent immediately after eating and congregate in the sunshine to aid with the digestive process.

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.

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.

  • Caterpillars of the western tent
  • A bunch of tent caterpillars attempting to climb a tree in search of food
  • Caterpillar tent in the eastern hemisphere
  • A tent caterpillar nest with several caterpillars
  • In the United Kingdom, a tent caterpillar nest was discovered.

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

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