Currently viewing the category: "Tent Caterpillars and Kin"
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Eastern Tent Caterpillars
Here is a picture I took while hiking along the C&O canal in Maryland. These things are EVERYWHERE and until I took a look at your site, I thought they were Gypsy Moth Caterpillars. My 4 year old son and I were at the National Zoo the other day and while the elephants couldn’t hold his attention, he was facinated by these caterpillars inching along all over the place. He then collected several and gently placed them on his shirt and then proceeded to strut around the zoo covered in them like some caterpillar tamer on Animal Planet. Alas, I did not have my camera with me that day. Thanks for the great site!
Tracy

Hi Tracy,
Thanks for your touching story. We have recently received several images of individual Eastern Tent Caterpillars, Malacosoma americanum, but we have not posted them. Your photo is a textbook example for identification purposes.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Tent caterpillars
and a closeup….This was taken near a child’s park in Asbury, NJ on Mother’s Day 2007. I found this about them on Wiki “Tent caterpillars are moderately sized caterpillars in the genus Malacosoma in the moth family Lasiocampidae. Species occur in North America, Mexico, and Eurasia. Twenty-six species have been described, six of which occur in North America. Some species are considered to have subspecies as well. Although most people consider tent caterpillars only as pests due to their habit of defoliating trees, they are among the most social of all caterpillars and exhibit many noteworthy behaviors. Tent caterpillars are readily recognized because they are social, colorful, day active and build conspicuous silk tents in the branches of host trees. Some species, such as the eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, build a single large tent which is typically occupied through the whole of the larval stage while others build a series of small tents that are sequentially abandoned. The forest tent caterpillar, Malacosoma disstria, is exceptional in that the larvae build no tent at all, aggregating instead on silken mats that they spin on the leaves or bark of trees. Tents facilitate aggregation and serve as focal sites of thermal regulatory behavior. They also serve as communication centers where caterpillars are alerted to the discovery of new food finds, as discussed below.”
Debbie

Hi Debbie,
Thanks for sending us your photos and providing the factual information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

We saw lots and lots of nests of these worms in the nooks of small trees at Bear Mountain NY. We didn’t notice them until the peaks which are around 1000 ft in altitude. They may have been at lower altitudes but we didn’t notice them there as much. Any idea what this insect is? We assumed it spins the nest so it’s maybe related to silk worms?
Ted

Hi Ted,
This is the tent of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum. The female lays eggs on tree branches in the fall and the egg overwinter, hatching in the spring. The caterpillars are social and spin the tent for protection.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Hello again from the Yucatan of Mexico
You helped me with a lovely (and pesky) melon moth a month or so ago and now I have a new question. The attached photos show a woolly caterpillar that has a hard and shiny reddish head. One photo shows how they gather at the base of trees during the daytime. At night they climb the local trees – one they seem to like a lot is a wild fig – and eat the leaves until they look like lacework. Then, as the sun comes up they stream down the tree trunks to gather in hollows and under logs. They are really doing a number on the trees and if they are going to hatch into something noxious I may consider spraying them to reduce their numbers near the area where we live. We live in a dense jungle so won’t be anything close to eliminating them overall. Another characteristic is that they sometimes have a spiderweb-like thread that they emit. I googled the description but don’t find anything. I have looked at all of you photos and don’t see one that looks quite like it nor any description of the behavior. Can you help?
Kathe Kirkbride

Hi Kathe,
Your written description and photos indicate this is probably some type of Tent Caterpillar, though many do not form tents. Huge aggregations often do considerable damage, but these large numbers are cyclical and do not occur every year. Loosing leaves is not a life threatening situation for trees. Poison might do more harm than good.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Can you help?
Every year in August in Michigan( all through michigan), I see this web like mass in trees. I asked the locals, they had no clue what they were, they didn’t even notice them. Do you know what it is?
Yvette

Hi Yvette,
This is a Fall Webworm, Hyphantria cunea, nest. In the fall, these social caterpillars can build enormous webs that cover the leaves. Here is a site with more information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

rockin’ caterpillars
These little fellows were twitching in their mass cocoon. The picture was taken in early summer. Can you identify them?
Mike
Boise, ID

Hi Mike,
These are Tent Caterpillars, probably Eastern Tent Caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum. Here is a link with additional information.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination