Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Malacosoma americana (moth)

Mature larvae is 2-2 1/4 in. long, cylindrical Black, with white stripe down back, blue spots along sides. Short, irregular brown markings along side of each segment. Their bodies have long, fine, brown hairs. Silk tents, or nests, constructed in limb crotches in spring (not to be confused with tents of Fall webworm, formed terminally on branches in late summer).  They pupate in a oval cocoon, about 1 in. long, with white silk around a parchment-like lining; yellow powder mixed with silk on tree trunks, fences and other man-made objects. The adult moths are light reddish-brown with two diagonal stripes across each forewing. Their wing expanse is approx.1 1/5-2 in. they lay eggs in masses, up to 1 1/2 in. long, encircling twig, with varnished appearance.

Their favorite hosts include Apple, crabapple, and wild cherry. Other hosts include, Ash, birch, black gum, hawthorn, maple, oak, peach, pear, plum, poplar, red- gum, rose, willow, and witch-hazel.

In the United States they are found in Eastern coastal and southwestern states and in Central and southeast Canada.
Avoid planting pure stands of rosaceous plants.

This is one of the most widespread defoliators of deciduous shade trees in the east. As populations increase, entire trees may be covered with webbing and all leaves devoured. Feeding mainly on tender leaf tissues restrict the tree’s manufacturing process. If foliage is removed three years in succession, the tree could die.

The female moths lay egg masses as a dark brown, shiny collar encircling twigs during June-July, each mass contains about 150-350 eggs. They overwinters in eggs. The following spring larvae emerge when leaves are about 1/2 in. long or just unfolding. Silk tents are built, enlarging as larvae grow, leaving only to feed. Six weeks later they migrate to a suitable place to spin white cocoons (resting stage). Adult moths emerge after several weeks. Only one generation per year.