forest tent caterpillar moth moth

(Malacosoma disstria)

               
Hodges #

7698

forest tent caterpillar moth
Conservation Status

IUCN Red List

not yet assessed

NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

Minnesota

not listed

Occurrence

Common

Flight/Season

Late June and July

Habitat

 

Size

Wingspan: 1 to 1¾

Total Length: to 13 16

 

Identification

 

 
Similar
Species

 


Larval Food

In northern Minnesota they feed primarily on quaking aspen and paper birch trees. In central and southern Minnesota they feed primarily on American basswood and oak. Red maple is the only hardwood they will not feed on.

 
Adult Food

 

 
Life Cycle

Unlike other tent caterpillars, this insect does not spin tents.

 
Behavior

 


Distribution Distribution Map  

Sources: 7, 21.

The range varies dramatically in outbreak years.


Comments

Periodic Widespread Outbreaks
In Minnesota widespread outbreaks of these insects occur every 10–20 years. The last two outbreaks were in 1989 and 2001. The outbreaks last two to three years. They are followed by outbreaks of the friendly fly (Sarcophaga aldrichi), a natural parasite of the caterpillar.


Taxonomy

Order:

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths)

 

Suborder:

Glossata

 

Infraorder:

Neolepidoptera

 

Parvorder:

Heteroneura

 

No Rank:

Ditrysia

 

No Rank:

Obtectomera

 

Superfamily:

Bombycoidea (hawk-moths)

 

No Rank:

Bombyciformes

 

Family:

Lasiocampidae (lappet moths)

 

Subfamily:

Lasiocampinae (tent caterpillars)

 

Tribe:

Malacosomatini

 
Synonyms

 

 
Common
Names

forest tent caterpillar moth (larva)

forest tent caterpillar moth moth


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

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  Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#7698 (Malacosoma disstria)
Andree Reno Sanborn
 
  Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth - Hodges#7698 (Malacosoma disstria)  
     
  Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma disstria)
Bill Keim
 
  Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma disstria)  
     
  Malacosoma disstria (Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth)
Allen Chartier
 
  Malacosoma disstria (Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth)  

 

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  Forest Tent Caterpillar. Malacosoma Disstria.
videofilmik
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on May 10, 2010

A spring trip to Addington Highlands, Ontario. May 8, 2010.

The Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma disstria) is the larva of a North American moth, found throughout the United States and Canada, and most common in the eastern regions.

These tent caterpillars do not make tents, rather they weave a silky sheet where they lie together during molting. They lay down strands of silk as they move over branches and travel along them like tightrope walkers. However, it has been shown that a trail pheromone secreted from the ventral surface of the posterior tip of the abdomen rather than the silk guides and stimulates trail following. The caterpillar are social and travel and feed en masse. The caterpillars live in deciduous trees, which they strip of leaves after emerging from their eggs. The moths favor oak, sweetgum and tupelo, aspen trees, and sugar maple for oviposition but the larvae can be found feeding on many other species of woody trees or shrubs when they disperse from ovipositional trees during outbreaks. The females lay eggs in masses of up to 300, which are stuck to twigs and covered with a gluey cement called spumaline which prevents them from desiccating or freezing over the winter. The eggs hatch the following winter.

Malacosoma disstria
The caterpillars are considered problem is when their populations explode in the fall. They can completely consume a tree. The trees re-foliate quite quickly (within two weeks to a month) and produce enough new leaves to carry on photosynthesis. Under most circumstances, little lasting damage is caused to the trees; however the disappearance of foliage is an eyesore and can be an agricultural nuisance. On those rare occasions when infestations last for three years or more, significant levels of tree mortality will begin to emerge during the years following outbreak collapse. Large-scale tree mortality has been reported in only one instance, in northern Ontario, Canada, after two outbreak cycles in the early and late 1990s occurred back-to-back, resulting in more than six consecutive years of aspen defoliation in some areas.

One outbreak in upstate New York and Vermont began in 2002, with 650,000 acres (2600 km²) defoliated in New York and 230,000 acres (930 km²) in Vermont in 2005.

Forest tent caterpillars are just over 2 inches (5 cm) in length, black or dark brown or gray with blue and faint yellow longitudinal stripes. Each abdominal segment bears a white spot. The caterpillars have long setae, giving them a furry look. The adult moth that emerges after pupation is yellow or tan with a thick, short, furry body. The wingspan is about 1.5 inches (3 cm). It is rather strictly nocturnal, starting to fly soon after nightfall and by and by returning to rest in the latter half of the night (Fullard & Napoleone 2001).

It is not known with certainty how far egg-laden female moths tend to fly. There is one credible report of moths flying hundreds of kilometres with the assistance of an unusually strong wind. (wikipedia)

 
     
  Forest Tent Caterpillars (Lasiocampidae: Malacosoma disstria) on Tree Trunk
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Jun 14, 2010

"If you're not a Buddhist you think there are Buddhists and nonBuddhists, but if you're a Buddhist you realize everybody's a Buddhist--even the bugs." --Shunryu Suzuki Photographed at Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (14 June 2010).

 
     
  Forest Tent Caterpillar (Lasiocampidae: Malacosoma disstria)
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Jul 6, 2010

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (06 July 2010).

 
     
  Forest Tent Caterpillar (Lasiocampidae: Malacosma disstria) Phenotypic Variation
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Jun 12, 2010

An unusually blue specimen. Photographed at Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (11 June 2010).

 
     
  Forest Tent Caterpillar (Lasiocampidae: Malacosmoa disstria) Constructing Cocoon
Carl Barrentine
 
   
 
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Uploaded on Jun 24, 2010

Photographed at Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (24 June 2010).

 
     

 

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