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Alphabetical List of Critters - Eastern Tent Caterpillars

An eastern tent caterpillar next to a US penny for scale purposes

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Eastern Tent Caterpillar nestEastern Tent Caterpillars feed on apple, peach, plum, crabapple and cherry trees and build distinctive nests in the forks of the branches. They have a solid white line running the length of their back with somewhat rust-colored sides that include a row of oval blue spots.

Eggs from the adult moths are deposited around small branches typically in late June (see 2nd and 3rd thumbnail images below). The eggs overwinter, and then hatching occurs as buds begin to swell and open. The young caterpillars feed on the new buds, and the nests are apparent by late May.  As the larvae grow they begin to feed on leaves, and as the population increases, it is not uncommon for trees and forests to be defoliated. The caterpillars mature in the first part of June, with adult moths appearing during the last part of the month, when egg-laying takes place. There is one generation per year.

Detailed Fact Sheets:

Additional Photos:

an EasternTentCaterpillar and an example of the communal nests they make in trees Eastern Tent Caterpillar - egg masses Closeup image of a mass of Eastern Tent Caterpillar eggs on a twig Forest-versus-Eastern-tent-caterpillar-wlabels EasternTentCaterpillarNest-2015b EasternTentCaterpillarNest-2015a Eastern Tent Caterpillars and their nest


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