The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Tent caterpillars in the orchard

Tent caterpillar egg massI noticed some shiny egg masses wrapped around the twigs of our biggest peach tree this winter, but I left them in place since I didn't know what they were.  Sunday, tiny tent caterpillar webs began radiating out from the egg masses.  Bad news!

If you live east of the Rockies, you've probably seen the tent caterpillar before, even though you may not have known what it is.  The caterpillars live inside a spiderweb-like tent of white silk that can reach about a foot in length, easily visible around the limbs of wild black cherries as you drive down the highway.  Tent caterpillars are voracious eaters and can defoliate entire trees in a season.
Young tent caterpillars
Although wild black cherries are their favorite food, tent caterpillars enjoy pretty much every fruit tree you'd plant in your yard.  They like apples, pears, cherries, plums, and peaches.  Large orchards spray chemicals to kill tent caterpillars, but on the backyard scale they're extremely easy to pick off the branch either in the egg stage or soon after the caterpillars hatch.  And our hens want you to know that a web full of tiny caterpillars is a very tasty treat.

Our hens also enjoy our homemade chicken waterer, full of POOP-free water.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

I'm wondering if anyone has tried harvesting tent caterpillar silk to spin? I don't have any firsthand knowledge of what the tents are like. What do you think?
Comment by Jana Thu Sep 8 11:27:25 2011
That is such an intriguing question, and I'm afraid I don't really have an answer. I know what tent caterpillar silk is like, but have never seen silkworms in action, so can't compare the two.
Comment by anna Thu Sep 8 15:25:42 2011

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.