EASTERN TENT CATERPILLARS
The nests, or tents, of the eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum (Fabricius), are a common sight in black cherry trees along roadsides and in yards. The eastern tent caterpillar is easily identified when it builds its white silk nest in the crotch of small trees or where several limbs meet on larger trees. Eastern tent caterpillars are black, with white and blue spots and a white stripe along its back.
The larvae lay down silk trails wherever they go and these trails serve as roadways for other larvae. Feeding continues for four to six weeks until the larvae are about two inches long. Mature larvae usually leave the nest in mass to search for a suitable place to spin a cocoon. The adults emerge in two to four weeks. There is only one generation per year.
The eastern tent caterpillars prefer wild cherry, but it can be found feeding on crabapple, plum, peach, and ornamental cherry trees in landscapes. Occasionally it will form nests in ash, birch, willow, maple, oak and poplar.