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Forest tent caterpillar

Malacosoma disstria Hübner
Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae

Adults are reddish brown with two brown, transverse-parallel bands (A). Masses of shiny black eggs are laid in a ring around twigs. Larvae have long silky hairs on their body and a row of elongated spots along the back (B).

Distribution

Most fruit-growing states and provinces in eastern North America.

Damage

Attacks apple, peach, and plum. Defoliation of infested branches occurs within a few days.

Similar Species

The eastern tent caterpillar [Malacosoma americanum (Fabr.)] adult has white bands rather than brown. The larva has a yellow line on the back. Only the eastern tent caterpillars build silken tents between the branches of infested trees.

Management

Physical control of the colonies by removal of larvae from trees; remove egg masses when detected while pruning. Localized intervention on the most severely infested trees. Economic infestations can be controlled by the use of selective (e.g., Bacillus thuringiensis) or broad-spectrum insecticides.

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