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Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma)

The tent caterpillar moths are a genus belonging to the family of snout moths. They are found in North America and named after the larva’s ability to construct tents out of webbing.

Tent Caterpillar Moth


Scientific Classification

List of Species in this Genus

  • Malacosoma alpicolum
  • Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth (Malacosoma americanum)
  • Western Tent Caterpillar Moth(Malacosoma californicum)
  • Ground Lackey Moth (Malacosoma castrense)
  •  Malacosoma constrictum
  • Forest Tent Caterpillar Moth(Malacosoma disstria)
  • Malacosoma franconicum
  • Southwestern Tent Caterpillar Moth(Malacosoma incurva)
  • Malacosoma laurae
  • Malacosoma luteum
  • Lackey Moth (Malacosoma neustria)
  • Malacosoma parallellum
  • Malacosoma primum
  • Sonoran Tent CaterpillarMoth (Malacosoma tigris)

Description and Identification


Most species of these moths are brightly colored in this stage and spin communal webs in the shape of tents. They are very social, releasing a pheromone that serves as a trail to identify one another.


When they mature, the larva begins to pupate inside a dense cocoon that looks like parchment.

Adult Moth

Sexual Dimorphism: Present but not prominent.

Color and Appearance

Forewings: When opened, they are light yellow to dark brown, with pale or dark straight lines running along the wings. When closed, the markings remain visible.

Hindwings: When opened, they are similar in appearance to their forewings. However, there are no markings on them. When closed, they remain completely hidden.

Average wingspan: 2.2-4.4 cm

Flight pattern: Erratic

Season: Late Spring to early summer




Females lay eggs in a shiny mass. The moths will overwinter in this stage, emerging in the spring.

Quick Facts

DistributionThe United States and southern Canada
HabitatDeciduous woodlands, edges, gardens, roadsides, and tree yards
Lifespan of Adults5 days
PredatorsBirds, frogs, mice, parasitoid wasps, and skunks
Host PlantsBasswood, cherry, maple, and plum
Adult DietDoes not feed

Did You Know

  • German entomologist Jacob Hübner first described this genus in 1820.

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