The forest tent caterpillars are relatively harmless to people (i.e., they do not bite or sting), although a few people have an allergic reaction to handling them. This can result in a skin rash or other symptoms resembling an allergic reaction to poison ivy. The allergy is caused by tiny hairs found on the body of the caterpillar that contains urticating fluid.
Forest tent caterpillars (Malacosoma disstria) are native to the United States and can be found in many areas of the country. These caterpillars are not poisonous, but handling them may cause a skin rash in some people.
The forest tent caterpillars feed on trees, shrubs, and flowers. They are covered with short hair and have a long row of blue spots along their sides.
Are tent caterpillars poisonous to humans?
Tent caterpillars are not poisonous to humans, but they can be a nuisance if they get into your home or cabin. They are considered a dangerous pest because of the damage that they cause to trees. However, tent caterpillars pose no threat to humans. These larvae feed primarily on tree leaves but do not cause any lasting damage.
Tent caterpillars are usually well-known for their unsightly silken nests found in tree branches and the noticeable defoliation that they cause trees during the spring months. Caterpillars will consume new foliage as it develops and may completely defoliate small flowering trees such as crabapples, mountain ash, and cherries by early summer. This severe defoliation may significantly weaken young trees, but larger trees will usually survive with minor aesthetic damage only.
Are forest tent caterpillars invasive?
Tent Caterpillar is a native species to Nantucket and the northeast and, therefore, not invasive. They are, however, considered an agricultural pest as they can defoliate trees during certain times of the year.
When trees are defoliated late in the growing season, the tree is usually able to regenerate before winter sets in. The problem arises when tree defoliation occurs early in the growing season before leaf buds have opened. If a tree is defoliated more than once within a year, it is unlikely that new leaves will be able to grow back by fall, and the tree will die in the following winter.
Can you touch forest tent caterpillars?
The forest tent caterpillar, Malacosoma disstria, is a type of moth found in North America. Unlike the poisonous caterpillars that are to be avoided, the forest tent caterpillar is harmless to humans and even has some value as a food source for birds.
The forest tent caterpillar does not pose any harm to humans. A light touch of the forest tent caterpillar’s fuzzy exterior may be irritating to someone with a sensitivity to said fuzz, but it is generally harmless.
In conclusion, the tent caterpillars are not poisonous but could cause a skin rash in some people. One way to control the population of these caterpillars is through biological controls.