Eastern Tent Caterpillars

By | May 1, 2019

I see a lot of the Eastern Tent Caterpillars while hiking the Ouachita National Forest here in Arkansas during the spring.

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar is of some importance as a pest because it defoliates ornamental trees. Damaged trees, however, typically recover and refoliate within several weeks.

Eastern Tent Caterpillars
Eastern Tent Caterpillars I came across while hiking the Ouachita National Forest in Arkansas.

How I Got The Shot

I was hand holding a Fujifilm X100T camera. I was shooting in aperture priority mode (AV) with a shutter speed of 1/90 of a second at f8 and the ISO at 1600. White Balance was set on auto with multi metering.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Tent Facts

  • Shortly after emergence, the newly hatched caterpillars begin the construction of a silk tent. Throughout their larval stage they typically aggregate at the tent site, expanding the tent every day to accommodate their increasing size.
  • It is built in the crotch of the host tree and is typically oriented to take advantage of the morning sun with the widest wall facing the southeast.
  • At first, the tents are small but grow in size and can become quite noticeable.
  • The tent has openings for entering and exiting.
  • The tent protects them against predators like birds and extreme temperatures.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Facts

  • Tent caterpillars are among the most social of larvae.
  • In late spring or early summer, the adult moth lays her eggs in a single batch.
  • There are about 200 to 300 eggs in a batch.
  • Fully formed caterpillars are in the eggs within three weeks.
  • The following spring, the small caterpillars will chew their way out of the eggs just as the buds of the host tree start to grow.
  • Tent caterpillars, like many other species of social caterpillars, vigorously thrash around when they detect predators.
  • Such thrashing from a single caterpillar, may radiate rapidly through the colony and result in group thrashing from dozens of caterpillars.

Wikipedia contributors, “Eastern tent caterpillar,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eastern_tent_caterpillar&oldid=898091132 (accessed July 4, 2019).

Author: Steve Creek

An Arkansas-based Wildlife Photographer specializing in the wildlife found in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

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