August 25, 2014

Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth

We had tons of tent caterpillars on the poplar tree in our backyard this summer. My 2 year old and I had lots of fun collecting them. I should have taken some pictures because it was amazing that there were so many. (Apparently they can be quite the pests.) Just before a rain they'd all gather in the elbows of the tree branches.

photo taken August 2014
I'd been watching for them to turn to chrysalises, but instead all these silky cocoons showed up. I hadn't realized they would turn into moths.

photo taken August 2014
All these moths showed up in our front porch and it was quite a while before I connected the dots and realized that these were the Forest Tent Caterpillar Moths. My children were again very excited to discover them all over our front wall outside our house.

Common Name: Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth
Scientific Name: Malacosoma Disstrium
     Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)
          Phylum: Anthropoda (Anthropods)
               Subphylum: Hexapoda (Hexapods)
                    Class: Insecta (Insects)
                         Order: Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)
                              Superfamily: Lasiocampoidea
                                   Family: Lasiocampidae (Tent Caterpillar and Lappet Moths)
                                        Subfamily: Lasiocampinae
                                             Tribe: Lasiocampini
                                                  Genus: Malacosoma
                                                       Species: disstria (Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth)
Habitat: Deciduous Trees
Lifecycle: 1 year
Other Facts: These caterpillars are considered pests because when there are lots of them (and there often are). They will eat trees and other plants completely bare of leaves. Outbreaks occur every 10-12 years and last 2-4 years.

photo taken August 2014
There were lots of cocoons in our backyard.
photo taken August 2014
Apparently Tent Caterpillars can also make their cocoons in the leaves of the trees.
photo taken August 2014

The holes where the moths emerged were pretty clear.
photo taken August 2014

photo taken August 2014
I've had my eye out for the eggs and finally found some. There are 300-400 eggs in each deposit. In the spring the eggs will hatch and the tiny caterpillars will emerge.
photo taken August 2014

It was neat to observe this segment of the caterpillars' life cycle over the summer.

1 comment:

  1. So glad to see you posting again and awaiting another recipe!