Cool things about Tent Caterpillars…
- Their super cool science name is “Malacosoma”.
- They build “tents” in trees wherever there is morning sun.
- The tent is made of layers of silk.
- Hundreds of caterpillars will live in a tent.
- Their body temperature must be at least 15 C for their digestive system to work, so they stay in the tent to warm up before beginning their day.
- On a sunny day the temperature in the tent can get too hot and they will leave the tent and rest in shady areas.
- After eating they always return to the same tent.
- They leave a pheromone trail wherever they go, so they can follow the trail back to the tent.
- If they find a good source of food, they will return to the tent to tell the others.
- They poop out about half of the mass they ingest. When they poop it sounds like falling rain in a forest.
- They eat for 6-8 weeks (complete their cycle), do the cocoon thing for two weeks, then become moths, mate, lay eggs (their eggs can withstand mid-winter temps of -40 C) and the cycle starts again in the spring.
- They have boom bust population cycles, with peaks every ten years.
Note: In most cases eating the leaves does not kill the tree. (Wikipedia: Defoliated trees typically refoliate after caterpillar attacks and experience no lasting damage. In some cases, however, trees or parts of trees may be killed after several seasons of repeated defoliation).
Note: They have no natural enemies (they don’t taste good).
Note: There is no spray or treatment that is effective at controlling large populations, however protecting single trees might be possible… (Wikipedia: One effective way to remove them is to place a bucket 1/4 filled with water near the infected tree; the tent caterpillars will be attracted to the bucket and drown. An effective deterrent is to ring the trunk of a tree with a sticky substance, such as tar, axle grease, or Vaseline).
Well, nothing to do but laugh about it! Here are my top five caterpillar jokes!
What does a caterpillar do first thing in the morning? Poop.
What does a caterpillar do on New Years Day? Turns over a new leaf!
What comes out of a caterpillar volcano? Larvae.
What’s green and dangerous? A caterpillar with a machine gun!
What is a caterpillar’s favourite hockey team? San Jose Sharks! (just kidding…Leafs!)