|Gypsy Moth caterpillar|
Early detection of egg cases is one step toward eradicating this pest from our own gardens. In March, the fuzzy, buff-colored egg masses are easily seen on trees, decks, vehicles, or outdoor furniture. Time is critical, as these masses may contain from 100 to 1,000 eggs. The caterpillars will hatch in late April or early May, after which the quarter-inch long caterpillars will begin to feed night and day on newly emerging leaves.
Preferred hosts include oak, white birch, gray birch, apple, willow, linden, basswood, hawthorn, sweet gum, and aspen, but other species are not immune. (UCONN Extension Home & Garden Center Fact Sheet)
|Gypsy Moth Female|
At the end of June or first of July, the caterpillars pupate for 10 to 14 days, after which the adult moths emerge. Males are brown and can fly. Females are white and cannot fly. If you see a female, destroy it.
Tent Caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum)
|Tent Caterpillar nest|
Favored hosts include wild cherry, apple, and crabapple, but the insects may also be found on hawthorn, maple, cherry, peach, pear, and plum.
The tent caterpillar moth lays 150 to 400 eggs which will hatch in early March to coincide with buds opening. The mass of caterpillars stay together, spinning a tent in the crotch of the tree. As they grow and foliage is eaten, they extend the size of the tent to enclose newfoliage. At about 6 weeks, they are full grown and will wander from the nest searching for a place to spin a cocoon.
|Tent Caterpillar female moth|
NOTE: The tent caterpillar is often confused with fall webworms (which also spin a nest, but at the tips of branches), but the two are different species with different habitat and cycles.