How Long Do Tent Caterpillars Live

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.

While tent caterpillars may almost completely defoliate a tree when they are in large numbers, the tree will typically rebound and produce a new crop of leaves. Nests, on the other hand, can constitute an eyesore in the landscape, particularly if they are exposed as a result of extensive defoliation. The silken nests, which are formed in the crotches of limbs, can grow to be rather substantial in size. As soon as the larvae begin to roam in search of safe havens to pupate, there is tremendous anxiety.

They are a nuisance and may cause a sloppy mess if they are squished on driveways, sidewalks, and patios, for example.

In general, insecticides are ineffective against fully developed larvae.

Fall webworm nests, in contrast to the tent caterpillar’s, are found at the extremities of branches, and their loosely formed webs include foliage, but the tents of the eastern tent caterpillar do not.


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.

The caterpillars hatch about the time that the buds begin to open, which is normally in early March, and feed on the buds. These insects are very sociable; caterpillars from a single egg mass will remain together and create a silken tent in the crotch of a tree to protect themselves from predators. Caterpillars from two or more egg masses may congregate to create a single big colony if the conditions are right. They remain within the tent when it is too hot outside or when it is too wet outside.

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. Approximately 1 inch long and formed of tightly woven white or yellowish silk, the cocoon is linked to other items by a few coarser strands that run through it.

Figure 4. An adult male eastern tent moth.

A series of oval blue dots on the sides of the caterpillars, which are black with a white stripe down the back, brown and yellow lines down the sides, and a row of black and white stripes down the rear. In order to consume the leaves, the larvae enlarge the web, which eventually grows to be several feet long. They are fully developed and 2 to 2-1/2 inches in length after 4 to 6 weeks of growth. In quest of safe havens in which to spin a cocoon, they start wandering away from the nest one by one at this point.

It is roughly 1 inch long and made of densely woven white or yellowish silk.


  • 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.

Anderson, USDA Forest Service, copyright 1995.

Winnipeg’s forest tent caterpillars invasion: 5 things to know

In Winnipeg, forest tent caterpillars are chomping their way through our leafy canopy of trees, consuming the leaves as they go. According to entomologist Taz Stuart, 500 million moths might emerge in July. Tent caterpillars cling on the trunk of a tree at a park in Winnipeg. (CBC) Forest tent caterpillars are nibbling their way into the city of Winnipeg, dining on the lush canopy of trees that surrounds them. Caterpillars of the forest tent species infest the city about once every 10 to 15 years, but when an infestation occurs, it can linger for up to two to three years.

  • According to an entomologist, forest tent caterpillars are invading Winnipeg.

Taz Stuart, an entomologist and director of technical operations at Poulin’s Pest Control Services, believes that there are more of the writhing bug in the city than most people would anticipate. If each tree produces 100 forest tent caterpillars and there are 5 million trees, then 500 million adult moths will emerge in July, according to a tweet he sent out on Monday. How many adult moths will emerge around the middle of July if each tree contains 100 forest tent caterpillars and there are around 5 million trees?

@tdtsca is a Twitter handle.

  • In fact, Taz Stuart, an entomologist at Poulin’s Pest Control Services and head of technical operations at the company, believes there are more of the writhing bug in the city than most people realize. If each tree produces 100 forest tent caterpillars and there are 5 million trees, then 500 million adult moths will emerge in July, according to a tweet from him on Monday. How many adult moths will emerge in the middle of July if each tree contains 100 forest tent caterpillars and there are approximately 5 million trees? 500,000,000! @tdtsca hash tag Contact insecticides such as permethrin, pyrethroid, or malathion can be applied to trees to deter the swarm, according to him, and should be effective in doing so.

His knowledge of the creepy crawler included several other fascinating tidbits.

Caterpillars relax during the day

Tent caterpillars are not active during the day, despite the fact that this is the period when most people see them.

They are most active at night, according to Stuart. According to him, “They graze on leaves and they feed at night.”

Grouping protects them from predators

The tent caterpillars may appear to be having a wonderful time clumping together on the trees, but Stuart emphasized that their clumping serves a more important purpose than simply entertaining themselves. “If they are left alone, a bird, a skunk, a raccoon, or even a squirrel may take advantage of their vulnerability and eat them. When they are gathered together in such a huge group, they are less likely to be bothered “he explained. He went on to say that there are often 100 to 150 caterpillars in each cluster.

(Photo courtesy of the Associated Press/Star Tribune, Joel Koyama) (From the Star Tribune and Joel Koyama of the Associated Press)

They are equal opportunity tree eaters

Despite the fact that they appear little, the caterpillars’ impact on the leaves may be significant. Stuart said that a defoliated tree is weaker and slows down, which means it may not be able to absorb enough glucose to produce leaves the next year as a result. According to him, if a tree is subjected to defoliation for a number of years, it may eventually succumb. Stuart went on to say that he hasn’t come across a tree that the caterpillar doesn’t like, but that they like attractive trees such as Chokecherry and Ash.

Most of their life is spent as an egg

According to Stuart, the tent caterpillar’s life cycle begins with the laying of an egg, which occurs about in the third week of July. The eggs are kept in storage throughout the winter until the ideal temperatures are reached, which normally occurs in mid-May. “They will emerge as very, very little larvae when they hatch. They will grow in size in stages, and right now you are watching what appears to be the final stage of their development “Stuart shared his thoughts. “After that, it will move into the pupa stage, which is almost like a small cocoon stage that will be in the earth or in spots where they feel secure to be,” says the expert.

Stuart claims that they are fast to begin mating and depositing new egg masses, which “appear to be a small bit of dung on a stick,” according to Stuart.

Forest tent caterpillars invading Winnipeg: Here is what you need to know

Forest tent caterpillars infest the city on average once every 10 to 15 years, according to the USDA. 0:29

They make an easy pet

It is possible that small children will be enticed to carry home the fluffy, squirmy tent caterpillar. According to Stuart, if this is the case, it should be rather simple for a parent to comply. According to him, “if you want to keep them in a lovely small container, you can put a few of leaves from the tree in there and they will feed on them at night and relax during the day.”

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 –
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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

Stage 1 of the life cycle consists of eggs. The eggs are roughly a quarter of an inch large and are placed in clusters of up to 400 eggs, which are covered by a slick, rugged, dark-colored covering that is slick, robust, and waterproof. The eggs of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar are easily distinguished due to their extremely glossy black covering, which is exceptionally reflective. Female moths lay their eggs on branches little wider than a pencil’s width and then envelop them in cocoons. These little branches are entirely surrounded by the shell.

  • Occasionally, two (or more) clutches will combine to form a huge colony of bees.
  • When the juvenile caterpillars are close to reaching their full size, their tents may be a foot long (or even longer).
  • With a delicate stripe along the middle of its back, the Western Tent Caterpillar has a light blue gray coloration.
  • The larvae of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar are black in color.
  • The Life Cycle of a Tent Caterpillar Biological Stage 3 – CocoonA tent worm cocoon is around one inch in length.
  • In a protected position, coarser threads are used to fasten the construction to a fixed object.
  • The pupae are brown in color and about three-quarters of an inch long on average.

Forest Tent Caterpillar Life Cycle Differs Slightly

In the United States, the Forest Tent Caterpillar’s life cycle begins in early April and continues until the end of July. The eggs begin to hatch in the middle of April and continue to hatch until the middle of May, depending on the weather. Before they pupate, the caterpillars go through five instars (growth stages) of development. Each stage lasts from a week to 10 days in duration. Forest Tent Caterpillars are also distinguished from their Western and Eastern counterparts in appearance. On the back, instead of a horizontal stripe, they feature a row of wedge-shaped patterns in a cream hue.

  • As they increase in size and require more food, they must go more out in order to get it.
  • It is possible for Forest Tent Caterpillars to grow to be two and a half inches in length.
  • Instead, they construct silken pads on top of which they rest rather than within of which they repose.
  • Moths emerge after a week to 10 days of being laid eggs.
  • It is common to observe them congregating near street lamps and porch lights at night, as they are active at night.
  • The covering on the eggs of Forest Tent Caterpillars is particularly tough, and it protects the eggs from injury even in the most remote parts of the northeastern United States.

Although the temperature lowers to –40° Fahrenheit, just ten percent of the eggs are destroyed in this environment. At a temperature of –50° Fahrenheit, it is possible that half of the eggs will expire.

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?

They are protected by the tents. They can take refuge in their tents if they want to escape being eaten by natural enemies or if they want to shelter themselves from extreme heat or bad weather. In addition, the tents give protection from insecticides. Caterpillars eat and emerge at opportune moments for the host plant (early morning, dusk or even warm evenings). During the early spring, PinTent Caterpillars are found on their web in an apple tree.

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.

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.

  1. Just before winter, keep an eye out for egg masses.
  2. In the spring, keep an eye out for tents and demolish them as soon as you spot them.
  3. A simple broom or stick can be used to sweep them away completely.
  4. 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.

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. You must open the tent and spray the insecticide inside; however, if you’re going to go to all that trouble, you might as well just remove the tent and avoid the risk of poisoning good bugs and birds along with the pests.

Does Soap And Water Kill Tent Caterpillars?

A soap and water spray, as well as submerging individual caterpillars in a bucket 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

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.

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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.

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!

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

Tent caterpillars, sometimes known as moth larvae, are medium-sized caterpillars that belong to the genus Malaco and are members of the family Lasiocampidae. Twenty-six species have been identified, six of which are found in North America and the remaining twenty-six in Europe and Eurasia. Some species are regarded to have subspecies in addition to the main species. Because of their proclivity for defoliating trees, they are frequently referred to as pests. 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).

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. As soon as the caterpillars hatch, they begin to construct their tent. 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.

  • Caterpillars of the western tent
  • A bunch of tent caterpillars on their way to feast off a tree
  • 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

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?

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.

They lack the vibrant colors of many other moths and look nearly dull in comparison.


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

13 Eastern Tent Caterpillar Facts You’ll Never Forget

The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a kind of caterpillar or moth larvae that is a member of the tent caterpillar family in the biological classification. Macrosoma americanum is widely renowned for its silk tents and social activity, which in comparison to other larvae is most prominently noticed in eastern tent caterpillars and autumn webworms, as well as for its silk tents and social behavior.

What class of animal does an eastern tent caterpillar belong to?

The eastern tent caterpillar is a member of the Arthropoda class of insects. Despite the fact that these reasonably sized caterpillars are recognized to pose little hazard to humanity, the adult moth has been shown to have lethal effects on horses when consumed by them while grazing on pasture.

How many eastern tent caterpillars are there in the world?

There are no precise estimates of the overall number of eastern tent caterpillars in existence; nevertheless, there are no urgent threats to their populations that have been documented. As a result, it is possible to fairly assert and presume that the current population of Malacosoma americanum is rather stable in nature.

Where does an eastern tent caterpillar live?

Like the autumn webworm, the tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum (Fabricius)) may be found throughout the eastern and central regions of the United States, similar to the location of the fall webworm. Furthermore, these pests may be found all the way up the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Apple trees and cherry trees are examples of host plants for this pest.

What is an eastern tent caterpillar’s habitat?

The most important habitat of eastern tent caterpillars is forests with fruit trees, where these pests construct tents to protect themselves (largest among the tent caterpillar species). Similar to the autumn webworm, the eastern tent caterpillar can also be seen in close proximity to human habitations, particularly during the late spring or early summer days. Forest trees and deciduous shade trees such as maple, peach, cherry, and willow are some of the most frequent plant types that these caterpillars use as a home for their young.

Who do eastern tent caterpillars live with?

Typically, eastern tent caterpillars are found in groups known as cohorts, which may contain anywhere between 50 and 200 individuals.

They deposit their eggs on the thin branches of cherry trees or the branches of apple trees, and the eggs hatch in the first few weeks of April, depending on the species of tree.

How long does an eastern tent caterpillar live?

The life cycle of Malacosoma americanum is around 10 months in length. Females of Malacosoma americanum, like the autumn webworm bug, have been observed to live for up to a week after depositing their eggs, in contrast to the adult males who have been known to live for up to a week or more.

How do they reproduce?

During the mating season, the male eastern tent caterpillar is on the lookout for females with the purpose of copulating with them. In reality, the struggle for breeding is rather intense among the male members, who, on average, outnumber their female counterparts in terms of numbers and proportion (in most tent caterpillar populations). Following the selection of possible mates, a brief period of copulation occurs, culminating in the fertilization of gametes. Women lay around 150-400 eggs in safe regions in the form of tent caterpillar egg masses in loosely woven webs, depending on the number of eggs fertilized.

Female eastern tent caterpillars die shortly after depositing their eggs, according to research.

What is their conservation status?

The IUCN has determined that the eastern tent caterpillar’s conservation status is Not Evaluated at this time. In their native environment, these insects may be found in large numbers on the leaves of a malus tree and a prunus tree.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Fun Facts

A typical Malacosoma has a black body with patterned white stripes running down their dorsal body parts and brown and yellow lines running down the lateral areas of their bodies, with their dorsal body parts being the most distinctive. Caterpillars with blue stripes and white dots can also be found on the bodies of eastern tent caterpillars. While going through the process of metamorphosis to become adult moths, the body of these tent caterpillars develops a reddish-brown coloring with white stripes on their wings as they mature.

How cute are they?

Despite their small size, eastern tent caterpillars do not have a particularly charming aspect to them. In fact, the hairy appearance and black colouring of these tent caterpillars give them a harsh appearance that is far from adorable.

How do they communicate?

Chemical channels, as well as visual sense, are used by eastern tent caterpillars to communicate with one another. Males of the species Malacosoma americanum produce pheromones along their foraging tracks, which are detected by the females of the species as well. These tent caterpillars have also been seen to have a sense of light, which allows them to comprehend their environment.

How big is an eastern tent caterpillar?

Eastern tent caterpillars are not very huge in comparison to other caterpillars. Generally speaking, these pests are of intermediate size, with an average length ranging from 1.6-2 in (4-5 cm).

How fast can eastern tent caterpillars move?

Eastern tent caterpillars are incredibly slow-moving insects that like to remain on their favourite trees while searching for a food supply in the evenings.

How much does an eastern tent caterpillar weigh?

There are no specific measurements available for the weight of eastern tent caterpillars; nonetheless, these members of the Lasiocampidae family are well-known for being exceedingly light in comparison to their size and other characteristics.

What are the male and female names of the species?

Male eastern tent moths or caterpillars are commonly referred to as such, whilst female eastern tent moths or caterpillars are referred to as such. Caterpillars are not known to eat within their webs, but they have been observed to congregate there at night. The only way to tell them apart is by their size, which is significantly greater in females than in men.

What would you call a baby eastern tent caterpillar?

Baby caterpillars or young eastern tent moths are the offspring of eastern tent caterpillars, which are also known as young eastern tent moths. The larvae eat on leaves, occasionally defoliating trees, but they will never feed on the webs that support the adult spiders.

What do they eat?

Known as baby caterpillars or juvenile eastern tent moths, the larval stage of the eastern tent caterpillar’s life cycle is known as the pupal stage. The larvae eat on leaves, occasionally defoliating trees, but they will never feed on the webs that support the adult spiders’ lives.

Are they poisonous?

Certain toxicity levels in the eastern tent caterpillar have been observed in many species of horses. This toxicity is particularly detrimental to the reproductive process in horses. Aside from that, it is not known if eastern tent caterpillars constitute a hazard to the human population.

Would they make a good pet?

Keeping an eastern tent moth as a pet is not recommended due to the fact that they are a wild creature. Kidadl’s Recommendation: All pets should only be purchased from a reliable retailer. It is important that you conduct your own study as a prospective pet owner before making your final decision on which animal to adopt. Being a pet owner may be extremely gratifying, but it also necessitates a significant investment of time, effort, and money. Inspect your state and/or country’s legislation to ensure that the pet you choose is legal in your area.

Please ensure that the pet you are contemplating purchasing is not an endangered species or one that is listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list, and that it has not been removed from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know.

The cohorts of Malacosoma americanum are noted for weaving gigantic silk tents, which are used by these tent caterpillars for protection from predators, food storage, and as sleeping tents at night. Malacosoma americanum is a species of tent caterpillar that is native to North America. These medium-sized, hairy individuals of the Malacosoma americanum species release pheromones in order to mark off or strengthen their tracks on the host tree, which they use to mark off or reinforce their trails on the host tree.

When an eastern tent caterpillar is consumed by a grazing mare, the poisons secreted by the caterpillar are known to cause miscarriage in horses, according to research.

The eastern tent caterpillar remains in its cocoon on the tree for three weeks, after which the adult moth emerges from the cocoon and flies away.

Do eastern tent caterpillars turn into butterflies or moths?

Yes, much like other moths, the individuals of the eastern tent caterpillar pest species go through metamorphosis, which is a four-stage transition process from egg to adult that takes them from their original state to their mature form. The tent moth Malacosoma americanum goes through the stages of egg, larva, and pupa before becoming an adult.

How did the eastern tent caterpillar get its name?

Despite the fact that this pest makes tents, it is the smallest of the tent caterpillar species, which gives them the moniker “eastern tent caterpillar.” You may safely handle these caterpillars since they do not represent a threat to people when handled because there is no chance of venom being communicated to humans by these pests when handled. Our team at Kidadl has worked hard to compile a large number of intriguing animal facts that are suitable for the whole family to enjoy. Learn more about some additional arthropods by visiting oursaddleback caterpillar facts andmonarch butterfly factspages, which also include useful information.

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