Tent caterpillars and gypsy moth caterpillars are not the same, but both are the same size, covered in hair, and striped in black and brown colors, with a few blue spots.
Gypsy moth caterpillars. Those are the ones that will eat your trees in a few weeks. They’re about 1.5 inches long, hairy, with black and brown stripes and a few blue spots. Gypsy moth caterpillars are a species from Europe that was accidentally introduced to Massachusetts in 1868 by a guy who wanted to breed them for silk production.
Tent caterpillars also make tents to protect them against predators, but their nests are made of silk and are usually built-in tree forks or branches, not along the trunk. The larvae also feed on aspen, birch, and cherry trees.
When gypsy moth caterpillars attack a forest or an urban area, they quickly strip all the leaves off every tree they can reach — both hardwood trees like oak and softwood evergreens like pine.
What’s the difference between gypsy moths and tent caterpillars?
The eastern tent caterpillar can be recognized by its long white stripe on the back and keyhole-shaped spots, while the forest tent caterpillar is recognized by the series of keyhole-shaped spots on its back. The gypsy moth caterpillar is hairy and does not have a white stripe on the back or keyhole-shaped spots on its back.
The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) is another common species of tent caterpillar found in North America. The adult moth is brown with a wingspan of up to 70 mm (2.75 inches). The forest tent caterpillar can be distinguished from the eastern tent caterpillar by the series of keyhole-shaped spots on its back.
The gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) is native to Europe and Asia but was introduced into the United States in 1869, where it has become an invasive pest species. Its hairy appearance most easily recognizes the gypsy moth because it does not have a white stripe on its back or keyhole-shaped spots on its side.
Do tent worms turn into gypsy moths?
There is a popular myth that tent worms turn into gypsy moths, but it is just that – a myth.
Gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar) caterpillars may be confused with tent caterpillars because they are similar in size and appearance. Tent caterpillars have blackheads and short, sparse hair. They have a bluish-black patch on the upper side of their body and a yellowish-orange patch on the lower side of their body. Gypsy moth caterpillars also have a bluish-black and yellowish-orange patch on their body. However, unlike tent caterpillars, gypsy moths have long hairs all over their body. Gypsy moths do not form tents in trees either.
How can you tell if a moth is a gypsy moth?
There are several ways to identify gypsy moths. One way to identify them is by their look. The egg masses are tan and hairy, and they usually contain 500-1000 eggs each. When the larvae hatch, they are black with bristle-like hairs on their back. This hair will turn brown as they get older.
You can also identify the gypsy moth by its markings. There are five sets of blue dots and six sets of red dots following one another in succession, each being lined up with the previous set. Also, they are brownish-colored and hairy.
Tent caterpillars, also referred to as Aspen or black worms, and gypsy moth caterpillars are, in fact, two different species. Both are native to North America, but they were introduced to Europe at different times. And while they may resemble one another to a certain degree because of their coloration, Gypsy moth caterpillars have more hairs than tent caterpillars, so it’s easy to tell them apart by sight.