What Do Tent Caterpillars Turn Into

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.

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


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

Date of last revision: 11/19 CAUTION! The pesticides recommended in this book are only approved for use in Kentucky, United States of America. Some goods may not be legal to use in your state or nation, depending on where you live. It is recommended that you consult with your local county agent or regulatory authority before applying any pesticide listed in this article. As a reminder, ALWAYS READ AND COMPLY WITH LABELED INSTRUCTIONS FOR SAFE USE OF ANY PESTICIDE! Images courtesy of Ric Bessin, University of Kentucky Entomology, with the exception of the tent in the tree shot, which is courtesy of R.

Anderson, USDA Forest Service, copyright 1995.

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. The caterpillars begin constructing their tent as soon as the gates close. The tent is built in such a way that it is shielded from the light in the early morning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They become fully grown adults around two weeks after that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Caterpillars of the western tent
  • A bunch of tent caterpillars 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

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

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

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

Life Cycle

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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 rainy 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 accommodate their growing size and to get away from the accumulating waste of frass, the caterpillars add new layers to their body as they mature.

As they crawl along 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 alert other caterpillars to the presence of foliage, but they also provide information about the quality of the food available on a specific 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

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

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

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

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-Making Caterpillars – 5.583

Print off this fact sheet by W.S. Cranshaw *(6/13) to keep on hand.

Quick Facts…

  • Several kinds of caterpillars build a silken shelter or tent for themselves. Tent caterpillars are widespread in the springtime. During the late summer and early fall, the fall webworm is the most frequent caterpillar responsible for tent construction
  • These insects are noticeable owing to the large number of tents they produce. They are, on the other hand, extremely rare in their ability to inflict substantial harm. The greatest amount of damage is caused by early season defoliation, which is particularly harmful to stressed plants. Natural restrictions on the populations of these insects include a variety of biological controls.

There are several different types of caterpillars that feed in groups or colonies on trees and bushes, and they create a silken shelter or tent to protect themselves. Tent caterpillars of various varieties are the most frequent in the springtime (Malacosomaspecies). Cottonwood, chokecherry, and other plants’ branches are covered with big loose tents made by the autumn webworm (Hyphantria cunea), which may be observed in the summer on their branches. Occasionally, outbreaks of caterpillars of the tiger moth (Lophocampaspecies) in the early spring months draw attention to themselves.

Tent Caterpillars

Tent caterpillars are found in four different species in Colorado. During the months of May and early June, the western tent caterpillar (M. californicum) is most frequently observed infesting aspen and mountain-mahogany. Numerous other plants, notably fruit trees, may also be contaminated with the pesticide. The western tent caterpillar is the most frequent and destructive tent caterpillar, causing extensive outbreaks that have devastated significant amounts of aspen in various regions of the country.

  1. tigris) may be found in stands of gambel oak, while theM.
  2. The eastern tent caterpillar (M.
  3. The egg masses of these tent caterpillars are adhered to the twigs of the host plant where they will spend the winter (Figure 1).
  4. The newly emerging caterpillars make their way to the crotches of trees where they begin to build a thick pile of silk.
  5. During their time on the silk mats, they also molt (shed their skins).
  6. As the caterpillars increase in size, the tent becomes increasingly enormous.
  7. The majority of them walk away from the tent and create a white cocoon of silk, which they then burrow into to pupate.
  8. The moths mate and then lay a single egg mass, which is then consumed by the males.
  9. The forest tent caterpillar (M.
  10. Despite the fact that its life history is similar to that of other tent caterpillar species, the forest tent caterpillar does not create a permanent tent like the other species.

Forest tent caterpillars eat a broad variety of plants, including aspen, ash, and a variety of fruit trees, among others. It is possible that they will cause epidemics that will cause plant damage.

Fall Webworm

The fall webworm (Figure 4) is the most prevalent tent caterpillar that may be found throughout the middle of the summer season. Chokecherry and cottonwood are the most common hosts, although it can be found on a wide variety of other trees and shrubs. In the winter, the pupa spends time loosely covered behind protective material in the vicinity of trees that have previously been infected. The adults, which are an almost pure white moth, emerge on the leaves of trees and shrubs in June and July, mate, and lay their eggs in large numbers on the leaves of trees and shrubs.

During feeding, the juvenile caterpillars work together to cover the few leaves on which they are feeding.

When the caterpillars reach adulthood, they scatter and may become a nuisance since they climb over fences and up the walls of buildings.

In Colorado, the fall webworm produces only one generation.

Tiger Moth

Tiger moth caterpillars (L. ingens and L. argentata) lay a dense layer of silk on the terminal growth of ponderosa pine, lodgepole pine, pinyon, Douglas-fir, white fir, and juniper trees, among other species (Figure 6). The caterpillars are one of the few species of caterpillars that continue to feed and develop throughout the winter. They will continue to produce and live in tents until the beginning of spring. By the end of June, they have completed their development and have pupated. Adult moths emerge and fly during the months of July and August, depositing a large number of eggs that hatch before the end of the summer.

The top-killing of injured trees is a frequent consequence of these injuries.

Minor Tent-Producing Insects

There are a few different insects that build silken tents that may be found in Colorado. A species of pine webworm known as Tetralophasp. may be seen binding up the leaves of ponderosa pine trees in regions throughout Colorado’s Front Range. Figure 9 shows an uglynest caterpillar (Archips cerasivornana), which lives on chokecherry and makes a sloppy nest of silk mixed with fragments of leaves and insect frass (Figure 9). Occasionally, outbreaks of the rabbitbrush webbing moth (Synnoma lynsyrana) cause harm to rabbitbrush plants (Figure 7).


A large number of natural enemies assault all of the caterpillars that build tents. Caterpillars are preyed upon by birds, predatory bugs, and a variety of hunting wasps. Tachinid flies and parasitic wasps are two of the most significant parasites on humans. Tent caterpillars are also susceptible to a viral illness that has the potential to decimate whole populations. The presence of these biological controls makes it unlikely for significant outbreaks to survive more than a season. In certain localities, though, fall webworm is a recurring problem, and this is known as an exception.

  1. The microbial pesticide Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide, and similar products) can be used to control all tent-making caterpillars in a selective and effective manner.
  2. As a result, it must be administered prior to the colony covering all of the leaf surfaces.
  3. Sevin (carbaryl) has been accessible for quite some time.
  4. In contrast to caterpillars, Spinosad, a naturally-derived substance (offered under the brand name Conserve to commercial applicators), is very selective in its effects on species other than those of caterpillars.
  5. It is not advisable to employ more drastic measures such as trimming or burning since they might do more damage than the insects themselves.
  6. In instance, the fall webworm, which feeds late in the season, falls into this category.
  7. Control is typically only necessary in situations when there has been a prolonged, high level of defoliation over a period of several years.
  8. 12/97.
  9. Cooperation between Colorado State University, the United States Department of Agriculture, and Colorado counties.

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Do tent caterpillars turn into butterflies?

Asked in the following category: General The most recent update was made on April 23, 2020. Social conduct is defined as follows: Tent caterpillars are some of the most gregarious of all the larvae. In late spring or early summer, the mother moth deposits her eggs in a single batch, which is then consumed by the larvae. They remain dormant until the following spring, when they gnaw their way out of the eggs at the exact moment when the buds of the host tree begin to emerge. Unlike tent caterpillars, which build their tents in the nodes and branches of a tree’s limbs, fall webworms construct their webs around the leaves and tiny branches at the extremities of the limbs.

Tent caterpillars
Subfamily: Lasiocampinae
Genus: Malacosoma Hübner, 1822

Also, do tent caterpillars have the ability to transform into gypsy moths? No, it is not the dreaded invading insect, the agypsy moth, which was introduced in Medford, Massachusetts, in the late 1800s. It is the Easterntent caterpillaror Malacosoma americanum (Fabricius, 1793) that is sometimes mistaken with gypsy moths or bagworms, but it is not. Caterpillars are extremely despised by the general public. In a similar vein, the question is posed as to what sort of butterfly tent caterpillars develop into.

It is univoltine, meaning that it produces just one generation per year.

Tent caterpillars may live for up to three years.

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.

What Do Tent Caterpillars Look Like?

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

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

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

What Are The Most Common Species In The United States?

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

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

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

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

When Forest Caterpillars are eating, they disperse across a tree. When they are at rest, they assemble in a group. 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.

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. The reason they are not visible is that they are enveloped in cocoons, where they will remain for three weeks while they undergo metamorphosis.

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.
  • 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.

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

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

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

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

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

Are Pesticides Effective Against Tent Caterpillars?

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

Does Soap And Water Kill Tent Caterpillars?

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

Tent Caterpillars Are Everywhere!

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

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

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

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