Return of the Tent Caterpillar

June 19th, 2012 | by | 1 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.


Responses

  1. Jonnie says:

    April 17th, 2015 at 9:27 pm (#)

    Found Several of these in the Ft Worth, TX Botanic Garden April 11, 2015 & took several pictures, but the light was fading and the area was shaded in the aroma garden behind the restaurant. Although Dave’s good photo shows that the blue stripes to be distinctive, we didn’t notice them immediately. Great pic! Now I can ID mine. Thanks.

Record a Comment

by

Related Posts

Follow Island Nature

Subscribe to Island Nature via Email

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

Join 127 other subscribers

Island Nature on Tumblr

  • photo from Tumblr

    238/365
    Sunrise at Amphitrite Point

    I’m not usually a morning person, but now that the sunrises are starting to happen at a more respectable hour I’m trying to get out a little more often. The light is definitely different from sunset and I’m still figuring out timing and angles. This is one image of several that I found down on the rocks in front of the lighthouse at Amphitrite Point in Ucluelet - the challenge was to get a good angle of rocks and water with a bit of colour in the sky. Photographed on August 26.

    Fuji X-T1, VSCO Kodak Porta 160

    08/29/15

  • photo from Tumblr

    237/365
    Wild Coast

    Had some fun working this composition a couple of evenings ago - lots of really interesting coastline along the Wild Pacific Trail​ in Ucluelet. This image is one of many that I liked, will post more photographs from this location on my web site once I get them processed.

    Fuji X-T1, Fuji’s Classic Chrome camera profile

    08/28/15

  • photo from Tumblr

    236/365
    The Island

    Great time with the kids on my day off, checked out the surf at Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve​ - the waves proved to be irresistible. This time, I had spare clothes and towels back in the car.

    Fuji X100S, VSCO Kodak Porta 160

    08/26/15

Photos of the Day from Island Nature’s Flickr Group

Member of

  • Wildlife Photography Blogs

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.