Ask a Question forum→Mystery Caterpillars

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Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
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DogsNDaylilies
May 16, 2018 6:28 PM CST
Can anyone ID these caterpillars and let me know what they will grow into?

Thumb of 2018-05-17/DogsNDaylilies/21344e

They are all swarming like crazy around this...nest(?)...I assume they are emerging from the object, but considering that it's the first time I have noticed it, it made me wonder if they were *creating* it. Is there such thing as a mass cocoon? It's just so bizarre--and I think it's so new--it's hard to imagine it's been there long enough for caterpillars to be emerging from it already!

Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 16, 2018 6:29 PM CST
There may be more than one kind but I call them 'tent caterpillars'. We generally make a torch and burn the tent before they can defoliate the trees.

Edited to add:
There are lots of creatures that feast on the caterpillars so it's not always necessary to destroy the nests. Here is a link:
https://www.rivercare.org/news...
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
[Last edited by greene - May 16, 2018 6:35 PM (+)]
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Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
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sooby
May 16, 2018 6:35 PM CST
They are tent caterpillars, and they shelter in the tent. Another option is to cut off the branch below the tent and destroy it when they're all at home, such as early morning. They are probably eastern tent caterpillars and turn into moths.
[Last edited by sooby - May 16, 2018 6:37 PM (+)]
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Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
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DogsNDaylilies
May 16, 2018 8:04 PM CST
Greene - that was a really informative article--thank you!

Sooby - thank you, I think you're right!


Judging from what I read in the article, I don't think I'll be doing anything to get rid of them. That tree is already destroyed (by some sort of fungus that looks like molten lava cooled over the ends of the branches) and needs to be cut down, but if birds and other wildlife eat the caterpillars, maybe it will be better to leave the tree up long enough for the caterpillars to grow into moths or for the wildlife to come make a meal on them. (Thanks goodness we don't have bears near here. Bears eating caterpillars...who knew?)
Name: greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
May 16, 2018 9:50 PM CST
Yep, considering how many critters eat these caterpillars, and considering that the trees will grow new leaves, maybe letting nature take its course is the best way to go. Hurray!
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: Mindi Hammerstone
Tracy, CA (Zone 9b)
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MindiHammerstone
May 17, 2018 6:41 AM CST
Nothing helpful, but I saw these on a nature show. Pretty neat.

😀

Mindi
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
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sooby
May 17, 2018 8:30 AM CST
What I sometimes do is just break up the tent with a stick or something, then the caterpillars have no hiding place and the birds can have a feast - if they like them. According to this article quite a lot do:

https://www.rivercare.org/news...

DnD, is this the fungus?

https://www.google.ca/search?q...
Name: Lin Vosbury
Sebastian, Florida (Zone 10a)

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plantladylin
May 17, 2018 8:48 AM CST
I agree, they look like Eastern Tent Caterpillars: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/...

http://www.ipm.msu.edu/insects...
http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/e...

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Name: Dnd
SE Michigan (Zone 6a)
Dog Lover Daylilies Organic Gardener Houseplants Celebrating Gardening: 2015 I helped beta test the first seed swap
Garden Ideas: Level 2
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DogsNDaylilies
May 17, 2018 1:20 PM CST
@sooby - yes, that looks a lot like it. The tree is almost completely gone....there are two trunks to the 'tree' and the one that is still standing upright has zero leaves/flowers/growth/etc.....it's very dead. The trunk that has some branches with leaves/flowers/etc. is hanging over and cannot be salvaged because it hangs almost parallel to the ground just a couple of feet above the ground, so we can't mow around it and it is very unsightly (sickly). Sad
Name: Sue
Ontario, Canada (Zone 4a)
Daylilies Birds Enjoys or suffers cold winters Native Plants and Wildflowers Butterflies Annuals
Region: Canadian Keeps Horses Dog Lover Plant Identifier Garden Sages
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sooby
May 17, 2018 1:26 PM CST
There's some info about the disease here:

https://www.apsnet.org/edcente...

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