Return of the Tent Caterpillar

June 19th, 2012 | by | Record a Comment
Published in Backyard Garden, Caterpillars, Invertebrates, Moths
Tags: , , , ,

I was out supervising the neighbourhood kids bicycling in the back alley when I noticed a very interesting caterpillar on the leaf of a lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina) in our rather wild roadside flower bed. Several of the kids took a break and had a closer look at this striking caterpillar and one mentioned that he had seen several similar looking ones in his yard across the street.

Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria)

A distinctive coloured tent caterpillar, the Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) has a series of white spots down its back and a striking blue stripe on its side.

A quick reference to the Insects of the Pacific Northwest and I was able to tentatively identify it as a forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria). According to Peter Haggard, this caterpillar is “the most common tent caterpillar on the coast.”

Field marks include the row of white “keyhole” like spots on the back of the caterpillar and the broad blue strip bordered by yellow-orange stripes on the sides. The food plants of this moth larva are alder, willow, oaks, and California lilac. We’ve got both oaks and California lilac on our block so it’s possible this little fellow was traveling too or fro.

Unlike other tent caterpillars, apparently this species doesn’t make a large, easy to see tent-like structure on the plants it is feeding on. I’ll have to look a little more carefully and see if I can find some others in the neighbourhood. And in mid-July and August, I’ll have to keep an eye out for the adult moths.


Record a Comment

by

Related Posts

Follow Island Nature

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 98 other subscribers

Blogging Events

Circus of the Spineless Macro Monday Berry Go Round Skywatch Friday I and the Bird Bird Photography Weekly An Inordinate Fondness

Photos of the Day from Island Nature’s Flickr Group

Member of

  • Wildlife Photography Blogs

Call for Writers

Got an interesting nature story or hosting a nature related event that is based on Vancouver Island?

We're always looking for articles about wildlife viewing, nature activities, ecotravel, and natural destinations. Check our Submission Guidelines for articles and photographs!

Disclosure

Island Nature is a member of the Canadian Amazon Associates program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to books on amazon.ca. A small percentage of each sale helps support this web site and you pay no additional fees for the book!

Copyright

Creative Commons License

Images and writing by Dave Ingram are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at Island Nature copyright.