What Eastern Tent Moth Larvae Can Eat

What Eastern Tent Moth Larvae Can Eat

Food. Various host plants, particularly those in the rose family, have been recorded to host caterpillars, including apple trees, cherry orchards, peach orchards, plum orchards, crabapples, and so forth. As a result, they prey on both natural and cultivated trees, including orchards and landscape plants. Adult moths are unable to consume food because their mouthparts are either underdeveloped or absent.

What do eastern tent moths eat?

What Do They Consume? Cherry, apple, plum, peach, and hawthorn trees are among the plants where eastern tent caterpillars dine on the leaves. It is possible that the enormous number of caterpillars would defoliate their host trees completely in years when Malacosoma americanum is prevalent, and that they will then migrate to less desirable species to eat.

Does anything eat tent caterpillars?

Tent caterpillars are eaten by a variety of birds, including robins, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, and cardinals. In addition to ground dwelling birds such as wild turkeys picking off caterpillars when they crawl to the ground to pupate, the caterpillars themselves are preyed upon by a variety of predators. Ducks and fish may devour them if they fall out of the tree over water if they fall out of the tree over water.

What kind of moth does a tent caterpillar turn into?

An mature male eastern tent moth in its natural habitat. 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.

What plants do tent caterpillars eat?

Among the fruits that eastern tent caterpillars like are wild cherry, apple, and crabapple. They will also eat ash, birch, blackgum, redgum, willow, witch-hazel, maple, oak, poplar, cherry, peach, and plum, among other things. They will also eat The bug hibernates as an egg during the winter. It is common for eggs to be placed in ring-like clusters that wrap little twigs of the plant that they are laid on.

How do I get rid of tent caterpillars naturally?

If you don’t want to get your hands dirty, you can wrap the webs around a broomstick. Then, place them in a bucket filled with water and dish soap to soak for 30 minutes. Take things seriously. When dealing with enormous infestations that are impossible to eradicate by hand, a pesticide containing Bacillus thuringiensis, sometimes known as “Bt,” is extremely successful.

How do you take care of a Eastern tent caterpillar?

Make a broomstick out of the webs if you don’t want to get your hands dirty! Then, place them in a bucket filled with water and dish soap to soak for several hours. Bring your game face to it! Abacillus thuringiensis (Bt) pesticide is extremely efficient for controlling big infestations that are impossible to eradicate by hand.

Are tent worms gypsy moths?

That would be the feared invading organism, the gypsy moth, which was introduced in Medford, Massachusetts in the late 1800s and has since spread around the world.

Malacosoma americanum (Fabricius, 1793) is the name given to the Eastern tent caterpillar, which is frequently mistaken with gypsy moths or bagworms in the wild. Tent caterpillars are extremely despised by the general public.

How do you get rid of a tent caterpillar infestation?

Insecticides can be used on spider webs as a spot treatment to eliminate the infestation. Early morning or late evening applications are recommended in order to concentrate the spray on the tents when the caterpillars cluster. If you want to keep eggs from hatching throughout the winter, spray them with dormant oil, which is a highly refined oil that distributes consistently and covers both dormant insects and their eggs.

Do tent worms bite?

Forest tent caterpillars are a nuisance in the forest. They do not bite or injure people, animals, or property in any way.

How long do eastern tent moths live?

The female moth dies shortly after laying her eggs, despite the fact that the male can survive for a week or more. The entirety of a female’s adult life may thus be completed in less than 24 hours in some cases. The process of embryogenesis begins shortly after the egg mass is laid down. Small larvae can be discovered within each egg mass within three to four weeks of hatching.

Do tent worms turn into moths?

The eastern tent caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) is a species of moth belonging to the Lasiocampidae family, which includes the tent caterpillars and lappet moths, among other things. It is univoltine, meaning that it produces just one generation per year. It is a tent caterpillar, which is a sociable species that builds community nests in the limbs of trees to protect itself.

Why are tent caterpillars bad?

It is crucial to note, however, that while the guard hairs present on the Eastern Tent Caterpillar are not dangerous, they are irritating to the stomach lining of many animals, including horses, and should be avoided. They’re used as climate predictors.

How long do eastern tent caterpillars stay in their cocoons?

Caterpillars are the sole stage of the caterpillar life cycle that causes feeding harm. These fully developed caterpillars emerge from the tree in early June and crawl around looking for suitable places to pupate and develop into cocoons. In mid-June, after approximately six weeks of eating and growth, the caterpillars spin white or yellowish white cocoons that are approximately one inch in length.

Are tent caterpillars good for anything?

The fact that tent caterpillars do not cause major damage to their host plants most of the time, despite the fact that some people find them unattractive, is that they are really valuable to their environment by providing a food supply for animals. Tent caterpillars typically defoliate only a few branches and are only actively feeding for a few weeks at a time.

Can you keep a eastern tent caterpillar?

The fact that tent caterpillars do not cause major damage to their host plants most of the time, despite the fact that some people find them unattractive, is because they may be useful to their environment by providing a food supply for wildlife. Most of the time, tent caterpillars defoliate only a few branches and are only actively feeding for a couple of weeks at a time.

Are forest tent caterpillars poisonous?

The caterpillars themselves are mostly innocuous to humans (i.e., they do not bite or sting), however a small number of people may experience an allergic reaction to touching them in some circumstances.

It is possible for forest tent caterpillar populations to reach outbreak sizes on a sporadic or regular basis.

How long do tent caterpillar moths live?

Outbreaks often last two to three years and occur at intervals of 10 years or more.

Can vinegar kill caterpillars?

Vinegar may be used as a natural insecticide to discourage a wide range of garden pests, and it is inexpensive. Caterpillars can be exterminated with the use of a little vinegar solution. When sprayed directly on snails and slugs, raw vinegar can also be effective in killing them. The date is May 19, 2020.

What happened to tent caterpillars?

Natural enemies and weather-related impacts are most likely to blame for the extraordinarily low populations of eastern tent caterpillars observed in recent years. Natural enemies and weather-related factors In the caterpillar stage, a variety of parasitoid insects and disease organisms cause considerable mortality in eastern tent caterpillars, which may be traced back to a single species.

Where do tent caterpillars lay eggs?

Caterpillar moths that live in forest tents are drawn to lighting. The eggs are placed in masses of 100 to 350 eggs along the highest tiny twigs of the tree. The eggs are glued together and coated with a frothy secretion that solidifies and turns a glossy dark brown as it dries and hardens.

Does soapy water kill caterpillars?

To eliminate caterpillars and their eggs, either drown them in a mix of water and dish detergent or burn them in a metal container with crumpled newspaper, both methods are effective.

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.


Caterpillars of the eastern tent eat the leaves of some of the most popular decorative landscaping trees, which causes their presence to be a source of concern for many homeowners. While they may do significant harm to a plant, they are rarely fatal, and if you’re looking for a fascinating bug to study, this is the insect you should look out for! In their silken tent, which has been constructed in the crotch of tree branches, many hundred caterpillars live in communal living quarters with one another.

It is in the early spring when the caterpillars first appear.

An elongated white stripe is visible down the backs of the black larvae.

Three weeks have passed since the Malacosoma americanummoths emerged from their cocoons. They lack vibrant colors and seem nearly dull in comparison to many other moths. Two parallel bands of cream are seen across the tan or reddish brown wings when examined closely.

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.
  • 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
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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.

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:

Tent Caterpillars

ENTFACT-424: Tent Caterpillars|Download the PDF version of this fact sheet

by Joe Collins, Nursery Inspector University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Tent caterpillars are nocturnal creatures that dwell in groups under a silken tent. The silk is generated by glands in the head, and the tent protects the creature from a variety of natural predators and predatory insects. Tent caterpillars are found in three different species in Kentucky, the United States: the eastern tent caterpillar, the forest tent caterpillar, and the autumn webworm. Each of these pests has a diverse range of natural enemies that, in most cases, prevent caterpillar populations from getting excessively numerous.

During certain years, one or more of the species may, on the other hand, become quite prevalent.

However, excessive feeding within a single year may cause tree development to be stunted, particularly if the tree is subjected to additional pressures such as drought.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Larvae of the ETC A native bug, the eastern tent caterpillar was originally described in 1646 and has been around ever since. The appearance of large numbers of this caterpillar is frequently associated with intervals of around 10 years. For a long time before the gypsy moth was unintentionally imported into the United States, the eastern tent caterpillar was thought to be one of the most serious pests of shade trees in our country. Among the fruits that eastern tent caterpillars like are wild cherry, apple, and crabapple.

  • They will also eat The bug hibernates as an egg during the winter.
  • The egg masses are approximately 3/4″ in length and have a varnished appearance.
  • Following the hatching of their eggs, the little caterpillars proceed to create a tent in a nearby branch fork.
  • The larvae crawl out of this tent and into the surrounding vegetation to feed.
  • The larvae are usually black with a white stripe running down the back of their bodies.
  • This insect pupates inside of whitish-colored cocoons that may be seen on tree trunks, fences, and buildings, amongst other places.

The moths are reddish-brown in color with two white lines running across each wing on each of their wings. This bug reproduces just once a year and has only one generation every year. Tent (on the left) and ETC Egg Mass (on the right) (right)

Forest Tent Caterpillar

Larvae of the Federal Trade Commission The woodland tent caterpillar resembles the eastern tent caterpillar in appearance and behavior. The egg masses are laid in a manner identical to that of the eastern tent caterpillar, with the exception that they are square at the ends. When the eggs hatch, the larvae attach themselves to the trunk or limb of a tree and form a loose tent or mat. As a result, they will normally travel to the top of the tree where they will begin feeding on the developing leaves buds.

  • A typical eating pattern for the larvae is to focus their feeding on a single branch at a time.
  • In comparison to the eastern tent caterpillar, this caterpillar is differentiated by the keyhole-shaped markings that run along its back.
  • Larvae are about the size of a pea.
  • Each of the front wings has two dark brown stripes on each side, and the adult is a tan moth approximately 1-1/2 inches long with two dark brown stripes on each side.
  • Sweetgum, oak, birch, ash, maple, elm, and basswood are among the trees that have been damaged by this insect.

Fall Webworm

In the United States and Canada, the autumn webworm is a pest that may be found throughout the majority of the country. With the exception of evergreens, it will feed on practically all shade, fruit, and decorative trees. The American elm, maples, hickory, and sweetgum are among the trees that are particularly popular in Kentucky. Larvae of the Fall Webworm When compared to the eastern tent caterpillar and the forest tent caterpillar, the autumn webworm is distinguished by the fact that it always places its tent at the ends of branches and that there is generally more than one generation every year of development.

  • They can have either a red or a black head on their bodies.
  • A frail web will be formed by the blackheaded larvae, but a huge and thick web will be formed by the redheaded larvae.
  • The moths begin to emerge between the middle of March and the middle of late April.
  • Female moths lay their eggs on the underside of leaves in masses ranging from 200 to 500 eggs in size after mating.
  • The first generation of caterpillars begins to feed from the middle of spring through the beginning of summer.

It is during August or September that a second generation of webworms will be spotted, after they have finished eating. Defoliation caused by webworms is often greater in the second generation than in the first generation. Tent for Webworms in the Fall


Essentially the same methods are used to control all three of these pests. It is quite effective to destroy the tents, especially if the tents are tiny, in order to get rid of the caterpillars. If possible, wait until dusk or early morning when the larvae are most active in the tent before doing this. It is best not to burn the tents since the tremendous heat and flames may cause harm to the tree’s roots. It may be necessary to prune egg masses off smaller trees in order to prevent their reproduction.

  1. These caterpillars are resistant to the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) as well as a variety of chemical pesticides.
  2. When the insects are in the nest, it is best to apply the pesticide in the evening or early morning when they are most active.
  3. 1/04 – Date of last revision: CAUTION!
  4. Some goods may not be legal to use in your state or nation, depending on where you live.
  6. The photographs of the Eastern tent caterpillar tent and egg mass, the forest tent caterpillar larva, and the fall webworm tent were taken from the CD: G.K.
  7. I and II, Southern Cooperative Series Bulletin No.
  8. Douce, et al., 1995, Forest Insects and Their Damage Vol These are photos that have been copyrighted.
  9. A signed license from the SFIWC and each individual photographer or organization is required before any commercial or other usage of the photos can be made.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma americanum)

Updated on January 3, 2022; written by a member of the staff; content from www.InsectIdentification.org The Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth derives its name from the activity of its caterpillars, which is why it is called that. A group of juvenile caterpillars works together to construct a “tent” out of their silk, which they use as a home on the tree or shrub from which they are eating. As they consume their food, the yellow and black meal worm-like caterpillars come and go during the day, returning at night for refuge from the environment and any predators.

  • The feeding activity causes dead leaves and fruit to become trapped inside the branch, resulting in unattractive branches.
  • Two thin, but clearly visible white lines cross their forewings in the middle and bottom part, respectively.
  • The thorax is coated with a thick layer of brown hair.
  • In the vicinity of roses and fruit trees like as apple, cherry, and peach, where they are most likely to deposit their eggs, they can be observed in large numbers.
  • Because the caterpillars feed on the leaves of trees that produce fruit that humans consume, they are sometimes referred to be pests.
  • Malacosoma americanum is the scientific name for this plant.
  • Furry; uneven; flying are some of the descriptors.

Dimensions (mm): 35.5mm Hi: 41 millimeters Reach Across Territories (A-to-Z) The United States, Canada, and Mexico Territorial Map of the United States, Canada, and Mexico NOTES ON THE MAP: The Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth is represented by the color red on the territorial heat map above, which shows the states and territories in North America where the moth may be found (but is not limited to).

  1. Some insects are naturally restricted by their habitat, weather, mating behaviors, food supplies, and other factors, but others have seen significant growth throughout most of, if not all of, North America, thanks to human intervention.
  2. For the most part, insects roam freely, often prompted by changes in nutrition or habitat, as well as mating patterns.
  3. All rights reserved.
  4. This resource makes use of information that has been made available to the public.
  5. For such information, please seek the advice of licensed and degreed specialists.
  6. When sending an email, please provide your location as well as an estimate of the general size of the specimen in issue if at all feasible.
  7. All Intellectual Property Rights are Reserved.

Leaf-Eating Caterpillars: Eastern Tent Caterpillar, Gypsy Moth, Fall Webworm

If you observe that something is eating all of the leaves off of your tree, it is most likely the result of a leaf-eating caterpillar of some sort consuming the leaves. In Northern Virginia, we have three typical varieties of caterpillars that may defoliate trees: the zebra caterpillar, the tiger caterpillar, and the tiger moth.

  • Fall webworm, Eastern tent caterpillar, Gypsy moth caterpillar are all examples of caterpillars that may be found in the fall.
See also:  What Goes Under A Tent

Fall Webworm

Hyphantria cunea, often known as the Fall Webworm, is a native Virginia caterpillar that builds a house over a tree’s terminal (branch-end) leaves and feeds on the leaves that are trapped inside.


The mature moths are white, with black patterns on their wings and feathery antennae on their wings. The larvae (caterpillars) are around an inch long and can be white, yellow, or green in color.


The female moth lays her eggs on the underside of leaves in the spring and early summer, and the eggs hatch within two weeks of the eggs being laid. These newly born caterpillars are the ones that do the harm to your trees. When summer is gone, the larvae pupate in the soil and leaf litter near the base of their host tree, where they will overwinter until the next spring. They first appear as moths in the springtime.


Caterpillar larvae begin to defoliate trees shortly after hatching, which occurs in the middle to late summer. On the ends of tree branches, the caterpillars weave protective webs to keep themselves safe. As they mature, they expand their webs to accommodate an increasing number of leaves. Within the webs, the larvae consume everything save the tough midribs and veins of the leaves. Despite the disfiguring look of the webs, webworm is not regarded to be a severe insect problem in northern Virginia for the following reasons: 1.

  • Foliar damage occurs in the late summer months. Trees that have been affected by defoliation usually recover. Webworm is preyed upon by a variety of predators, including wasps and birds, which aid in the management of yearly populations.

Preferred Trees

The following Virginia tree species are among the webworm’s favorites:

  • Carya (pecans and hickories)
  • Juglans (walnuts)
  • Oaks (Quercus)
  • Elm (Ulmus)
  • Ash (Fraxinus)
  • Apple (Malus)
  • Peach (Prunus)
  • Peach (Prunus

The webworm caterpillars, on the other hand, can be found in the leaves of up to 100 different tree species.

Controlling Fall Webworm

Spraying pesticide on leaves along the spreading border of a webworm’s web can be effective in controlling the pest. Spraying the webs directly is ineffective because the spun layers protect the larvae that are contained within them. It is possible to regulate webworm populations by cutting off and removing the webs on the branches of your trees that have webworm infestations. If the webworm infestations are on the branches of your trees that are within reach, this is an efficient method of controlling their numbers.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Because the larvae of both insects weave protective webs, the Fall Webworm (Malacosoma americanum) and the Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) are sometimes mistaken. The appearance and behavior of the insects, on the other hand, varies.


Tent caterpillar moths are light brown in color with white stripes and fluffy antennae on the adult stage.

The tent caterpillar larvae can grow to be 2 inches or more in length. A white stripe runs down their back and they have tufts of yellow hair on their heads.


Female moths lay their eggs in lustrous, dark-brown piles that wrap tiny trees, where they will overwinter until the following spring. Spring is the time of year when the caterpillar eggs hatch and the caterpillar larvae begin defoliating the leaves of the host tree. After a month or two, the larvae reach maturity and crawl to the ground in search of a secluded location where they may spin their white cocoons. The pupae grow in a matter of weeks and emerge as adult moths, where they will mate and deposit eggs for the following year’s generation of caterpillars.


Eastern tent caterpillars construct dense webs in the forks and crotches of trees, rather than at the extremities of branches, as do webworms in their native Australia. Tent caterpillars emerge from their communal webs during the day to eat on leaves, and then return to them at night to pupate.

Controlling Eastern tent caterpillar

The most effective method of reducing the population for the next year is to remove and destroy egg masses in the fall and winter. During the day, the pests are preyed upon by a variety of natural predators, including numerous bird species, who consume the caterpillar larvae. If those precautions are insufficient, insecticides might be sprayed on caterpillar larvae to kill them. This should be done as early in the spring as possible, when the larvae are still little and easily captured. Even though it may be difficult to spray efficiently when only a few leaves have sprouted, direct spraying will destroy any larvae present.

When caterpillars are out eating leaves throughout the day, spray residual insecticide onto leaf and twig surfaces and reapply as needed to keep the pest under control.

Do not set fire to webs!

Gypsy Moth

Due to the fast defoliation of trees caused by the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar), the Gypsy Moth (Lymantria dispar dispar) is a serious pest of hardwood trees in northern Virginia.


Typically, the caterpillars are an inch or more in length, black or brown in color, with markings along their backs and bristle-like hairs on their wings. Female moths have white wings with black markings and are unable to fly due to their flightlessness. In addition to having darker, brownish wings with black patterns and feather-like antennae, male moths have the ability to fly. Gypsy mothegg masses are tan in color and coated with wing scales shed by the adult female moth that feeds on them.

Moving goods that contain gypsy moth eggs is one method by which the bug spreads, making it critical to thoroughly check all items in order to prevent the insect’s spread.


After pupating, adult mothsin emerge in the early summer months.

Adult moths mate in the summer, and female moths deposit eggs that will overwinter and emerge the following spring when they have matured.


Gypsy moth larvae (caterpillars) emerge in the spring and consume large amounts of plant material as they progress through their larval stages. While gypsy moth populations fluctuate from year to year, severe or repetitive defoliation of garden and woodland trees can result in the death of huge numbers of trees.

Preferred Trees

Although the oak (Quercus) is the favored species, gypsy moth caterpillars eat on hundreds of different tree species, including:

  • Fruit trees include: apple (Malus), alder (Alnus), aspen (Populus), basswood(Tilia), birch (Betula), boxelder (Acer negundo), larch (Larix), American mountain ash (Sorbus), sweetgum (Liquidambar), willow (Salix), and yew (Acer negundo).

Gypsy moth quarantine in Virginia

Loudon and Fairfax counties, as well as all but a few counties in Virginia, have been under a gypsy moth quarantine for quite some time. Consult the Virginia gypsy moth quarantine map produced by the state’s department of agriculture for further information. The distribution of insect eggs and larvae through firewood, in addition to automobiles, household objects, and machinery left outside, is one of the most prevalent methods of spreading insect eggs and larvae. Campers and guests are prohibited from carrying firewood into Virginia state parks in order to avoid the spread of damaging insects to forests and wildlands.

Controlling gypsy moth

Although controlling the gypsy moth is challenging, the following methods can be taken by homeowners:

  • Expel any remaining egg masses from surfaces and soak them in soapy water for a few days to destroy any remaining eggs. The spraying of egg masses with an insecticide meant to kill gypsy moths is an option. Trap larvae as they move down tree trunks by wrapping their trunks in sticky bands.

Homeowners may find information regarding gypsy moth management on the Virginia Tech agricultural extension website, which can be found here. The most efficient method of controlling gypsy moth larvae is to inforestsisEntomophaga maimaiga is a fungus that kills the larvae of the gypsy moth. The wet spring weather promotes the establishment of a fungus that controls larvae by inundating them with fungal spores, as seen in the illustration. It is when the larvae die that the spores are released, which then travels along with the wind to additional larvae.

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

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

  • In one inch long, black, gall-like lumps on slender twigs, the overwintering eggs are protected from the elements (see photo above). They are covered with a protective layer that feels similar to styrofoam. In central Maryland, the eggs hatch around the first week of April, depending on the meteorological conditions at the time. Occasionally, this will occur even before the wild cherry buds have opened. Young caterpillars are totally black
  • Older caterpillars are brown. After a few days, they begin to spin the silk tents, which they continue to develop in size. During their development, Eastern tent caterpillars grow an unique white stripe running down the rear of their bodies (see photo below). When forest tent caterpillars reach adulthood, they develop spots on their backs. During the month of May, the huge caterpillars that develop by the end of May do the greatest amount of feeding damage. As soon as they have finished eating, they depart the trees in search of safe havens where they may build protective cocoons. When the little brown moths emerge from their cocoons in the early summer, they mate in order to lay the overwintering eggs. A single generation happens in Maryland each year
  • There are no more.

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. Photograph courtesy of Tim Tigner of the Virginia Department of Forestry and Bugwood.org

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.

What Eats Tent Caterpillars?

A gigantic silk nest is constructed among the branches of trees by tent caterpillars. During the day, they leave the nest to eat on leaves, and they return to it at night to rest. They are protected from predators while in the nest, but after they leave the nest, they are preyed upon by a broad range of other creatures, including humans.

See also:  What Can You Grow In A Grow Tent

Bird Predators

Predators such as birds eat tent caterpillars as they are hatching from their eggs or when they are in the form of moths. Caterpillars are picked off the branches and leaves by songbirds. Tent caterpillars are eaten by a variety of birds, including robins, blue jays, red-winged blackbirds, and cardinals. In addition to ground dwelling birds such as wild turkeys picking off caterpillars when they crawl to the ground to pupate, the caterpillars themselves are preyed upon by a variety of predators.

Most of the time, birds devour them whole.

Insect Predators

Parasitic wasps attack both the egg and larval stages of the eastern and western tent caterpillars, causing them to die. Flesh flies prey on forest tent caterpillars, causing them to die. Depending on where the caterpillar eggs are laid, these parasites may lay eggs on the caterpillars themselves. As soon as the larvae hatch, they begin to devour the eggs or caterpillars from the inside out, as described above. Stink bugs, hornets, and yellow jackets are pests that attack many kinds of animals.

In addition to eating caterpillars directly by grasping them in their teeth, they also sting them and transport them back to their nests where they are devoured by the adults.

Mammal Predators

Caterpillars from tents are eaten by a few species of animals, including humans. While squirrels consume caterpillars that fall from tree branches, foxes and other large mammals (including white-footed mice and chipmunks) devour them as soon as they strike the ground, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

The caterpillars and the moths will both be eaten by bats. Some species consume both the caterpillar and the moth in their whole, while others just consume the caterpillar and leave the moth wings behind.

Reptile and Amphibian Predators

It is just a few animals that consume tent caterpillars as a part of their regular diet. While squirrels consume caterpillars that fall from tree branches, foxes and other large mammals (including white-footed mice and chipmunks) eat them once they fall to the ground, according to the University of California Extension. Neither the caterpillars nor the moths will survive if eaten by bats. Some species consume both the caterpillar and the moth in their whole, whereas others just consume the caterpillar and leave the moth wings.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Bugwood.org is run by Tim Tigner of the Virginia Department of Forestry. Malacosoma americanum is a kind of fungus found in the United States (Fabricius) Since 1646, people have been observing the eastern tent caterpillar in the United States of America. Outbreaks are common at eight- to ten-year intervals, and they can be deadly. Nests or tents formed in the forks and crotches of a tree, which are normally visible in the spring, are usually indicative of the existence of this insect in the area.

However, this was not the case.


Image 1: The Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum) in its natural habitat (Fabricius). Egg mass of the eastern tent caterpillar. R.L. Anderson of the USDA Forest Service (UGA0590063b) is credited. Fig. 2: Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum), in its natural habitat (Fabricius). The larvae of the eastern tent caterpillar. University of Georgia (UGA0795040b); G.J. Lenhard – Louisiana State University * The University of Georgia, as well as the individual photographers and organizations who created these photographs, have copyright protection for them.

  1. The egg mass may measure nineteen millimeters in diameter.
  2. The size of the tent increases in proportion to the number of larvae.
  3. After reaching maturity (Image 2), the caterpillars will depart the host tree in search of a suitable location to spin their pale yellowish cocoons.
  4. Following mating, the female lays eggs in a mass around little twigs on a host plant, which she later consumes.

Life History

This important pest overwinters as a black, shimmering egg mass on twigs that resembles a collar. Every egg mass contains between 150 and 350 eggs. The gregarious larvae begin to build their tents on surrounding branch crotches shortly after hatching from their eggs in the spring, about the time cherry leaves begin to emerge from their buds. These tents, which are constructed of silken layers, serve as safe havens for larvae during their development. A period of six to eight weeks is required for the caterpillars to complete their feeding cycle.

The larva undergoes a transformation into a resting stage known as the pupa while enclosed in the cocoon.

Approximately three weeks pass during the pupal stage. A female lays eggs in a swarm around little twigs throughout the months of June and July, when the adults first emerge. In Pennsylvania, there is just one generation of children every year.


Cherry, crabapple, and apple trees are the most common hosts of this pest in the United States. The eastern tent caterpillar occasionally infects other deciduous decorative shrubs, shade and forest trees, as well as other deciduous ornamental shrubs. Landscape trees become ugly because to the silky tents woven by the caterpillars, and the caterpillars are a nuisance when hunting for food or a good location to spin their cocoons. Rather than feeding within their webs, the caterpillars concentrate there throughout the night and during wet weather.

Within a three-foot radius of the nest, the leaves on the host tree may be stripped off all of the twigs within that radius (s).


The larvae of the eastern tent caterpillar are prey for a variety of different insects, toads, and birds. Several species of tiny, helpful wasps prey on the eggs, larvae, and pupae of this pest, causing them to die. During bad weather conditions, a large number of caterpillars succumb to illness. From December through March, prune short twigs that contain viable egg masses on them to ensure that the eggs hatch successfully.


Registered pesticides should be used in April, when the caterpillars are at their earliest stage of development. To manage the eastern tent caterpillars, apply registered formulations to the nests as well as around one foot of the surrounding branches or trunk to achieve effective control. Apply the spray before the nests have grown to a diameter of three inches. If at all feasible, apply pesticides first thing in the morning, when the caterpillars are most likely to be within their nests. To get precise information on host plant label clearance, phytotoxicity information, safety precautions, and dose information, read and follow all label requirements carefully.


Pesticides are extremely toxic. Read and adhere to the instructions and safety precautions provided on labels. Precautions should be taken when handling and storing the product in original labeled containers out of the reach of children, pets, and livestock Empty containers should be disposed of as soon as possible in a safe manner and location. Don’t pollute forage, streams, or ponds with chemicals. The following article was written by: Gregory A. Hoover, Sr. Extension AssociateMarch 2002

Tent caterpillars – Canada.ca

If you decide to use a pesticide to address your pest problem, make sure you read the label carefully to ensure that you are using the correct product for the correct insect. Pay close attention to all label instructions and cautions. Always look for a Pest Control Products (PCP) number on the label to ensure that the product has been approved by Health Canada before purchasing it. For additional information on how to use pesticides properly, please seeUse pesticides carefully.

  • Adormant oil spray on sensitive trees in late winter can be used to suffocate caterpillar eggs before they hatch in early spring if you have a caterpillar infestation. Dried eggs, mites, scales, and other insects can be controlled by applying dormant oils to fruit trees over the winter. If dormant oils are not used properly, they can cause damage to plants, so make sure to read and follow all package recommendations. There are a variety of additional pesticide products that have been approved for the management of tent caterpillars. If the tent is within reach, use a stick to pry it open and spray the insecticide into it while it is still open. When spraying in the evening, it will be most successful, because the caterpillars return to their nesting location at night.

Eastern ten caterpillar

If you have a caterpillar infestation, you can apply adormant oil spray on sensitive trees in late winter to suffocate the caterpillar eggs before they hatch in early spring. Heavy oils that are applied to fruit trees to reduce eggs, mites, scales, and other insects that overwinter in the tree’s foliage. If dormant oils are not utilized properly, they might cause damage to plants; thus, observe all label guidelines. Tent caterpillars can be controlled with a variety of different pesticides that are approved for use in this situation.

If the tent is within reach, use a stick to pry it open and spray the insecticide into it while it is still warm. When spraying in the evening, it will be most successful, because the caterpillars return to their nesting region during the night.

Common Name(s): Eastern tent caterpillar

In addition to building webs or tents, the eastern tent caterpillar attacks various types of trees across the world. A unique white stripe runs down the back of the larvae, which are hairy and have oval blue dots on the side as well as black-brown and yellow-orange patterns. They have one-inch wingspan and are reddish-brown in color with two diagonal stripes along the forewing of their forewings. The eastern tent caterpillars spin unattractive webs in the forks of branches, which may be very unpleasant.

It is commonly accepted that healthy trees can withstand the feeding of eastern tent caterpillars.

The eastern tent caterpillar nests are sometimes confused with autumn webworm nests, which are found near the extremities of the branches and are much smaller.

They may be found in the eastern United States, east of the Rocky Mountains, and in Canada, from Nova Scotia to Alberta, among other locations.


In addition to ornamental and fruit trees, the eastern tent caterpillar targets a wide range of other tree species. Cherry, plum, peach, apple, hawthorn, and related plants are among their favorite fruits and plants. They can occasionally be observed eating on oak trees.

Life Cycle

Female moths lay their egg masses on tiny twigs or tree branches during the late spring or early summer months. The egg masses range in size from 150 to 400 eggs. When it comes to attaching the eggs to twigs or bark, the females employ spumaline, which is a sticky, foamy material that acts as an adhesive. The spumaline also coats the egg masses, providing them with a protective layer of hardness. It is around the time the leaves on their host plant begin to sprout that the larvae or caterpillars emerge from the eggs of the monarch butterfly.

  • During their development, the webs expand in size and offer protection for the caterpillars during the night, during hot weather, and during wet spells.
  • Because eastern tent caterpillars eat in groups, defoliation is generally localized in one area.
  • The caterpillars develop from 1/4 inch to around 2 inches in length throughout their growth phases, known as instars.
  • Each year, only one generation of the eastern tent caterpillar is produced.


If you live in the state of Texas, you should speak with your local county agent or entomologist for information on pest management. If you reside anywhere other than Texas, you should contact your local extension office for management alternatives. Several variables influence the management of eastern tent caterpillars, including the quantity of defoliation, the size of webs present, and the level of annoyance caused by the caterpillars. It may be necessary to mix cultural and chemical procedures in order to achieve the optimum results.

Prevention and early treatment are essential when dealing with this pest.

During routine pruning, the caterpillar eggs are frequently removed before they develop.

Using a long pole or a high-pressure water spray, little webs may be manually removed, whilst bigger tents can be destroyed using a high-pressure water spray or a long pole.

A significant role in the management of eastern tent caterpillars is played by their natural enemies.

Additionally, other insects, such as assassin bugs and paper wasps, prey on the tent caterpillars’ eggs.

Aside from that, pesticides are ineffective on adult larvae, thus they should only be used on caterpillars that are an inch or less in length.

Insecticides can be put on spider webs as a spot treatment to kill the insects.

Tent caterpillars are controlled with a range of organically produced compounds, including Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) varietykurstaki, spinosad, and insecticidal soaps.

All of these items will help to keep the smaller caterpillars under control.

In order to effectively kill caterpillars, insecticidal soaps must be sprayed directly on them.

In addition to plant-derived insecticides, synthetic pesticides such as pyrethroids and carbamates have longer residuals than their plant-derived counterparts.

Because they are broad spectrum insecticides, they will kill both the caterpillars and the beneficial insects that are there. Always read and adhere to the product label’s directions before using it.


Ric Bessin’s Eastern Tent Caterpillar is a species of caterpillar found in eastern North America. Entfact-423 is a publication from the University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology. Eastern Tent Caterpillars (Jeffrey Hahn, Eastern Tent Caterpillars). The University of Minnesota Extension offers a variety of programs.

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