forest tent caterpillar

(Malacosoma disstria)

forest tent caterpillar moth
  Hodges #

7698

 
 
Conservation Status
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
 
Description
 
 

 

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Wingspan: 1 to 1¾

Total Length: to 13 16

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

 

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Late June and July

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

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

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Larva Hosts

 
 

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

 
 

 

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

7, 21, 24.

 
  6/22/2014      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common

In Minnesota, widespread outbreaks of forest tent caterpillars occur every 10–16 years. The last three outbreaks were in 1989, 2001, and 2012. 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  
 

Genus

Malacosoma  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

 

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

forest tent caterpillar moth (larva)

forest tent caterpillar moth moth

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.
 
 

Alicia

 
 

found on Hallaway Hill sign

 
    forest tent caterpillar   forest tent caterpillar  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
    forest tent caterpillar moth   forest tent caterpillar moth  
           
    forest tent caterpillar moth   forest tent caterpillar moth  
           
    forest tent caterpillar moth   forest tent caterpillar moth  
           
    forest tent caterpillar moth      
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
Forest Tent Moth
DianesDigitals
  Forest Tent Moth  
 
About

Copyright DianesDigitals

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

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.
 
 

 

 
     
     
       
       
       
 
Other Videos
 
  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
 
   
 
About

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
 
   
 
About

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
 
   
 
About

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
 
   
 
About

Uploaded on Jun 24, 2010

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

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Alicia
6/15/2021

Location: Maplewood State Park

found on Hallaway Hill sign

forest tent caterpillar  
  Matisse
5/28/2020

Location: Powderhorn Park, Minneapolis

I found 2. I like them.

   
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
   

 

 

Binoculars


Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2022 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.