Posted by: notsofancynancy | February 12, 2013

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home #4

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home #4

Tent Caterpillars

These fascinating creatures are called Tent Caterpillars. According to Wikipedia:

Tent caterpillars hatch from their eggs in the early spring at the time the leaves of their host trees are just unfolding. The caterpillars establish their tent soon after they eclose. The tent is constructed at a site that intercepts the early morning sun. The position of the tent is critical because the caterpillars must bask in the sun to elevate their temperatures above the cool ambient temperatures that occur in the early spring. Studies have shown that when the body temperature of a caterpillar is less than about 15 °C, digestion cannot occur. The tent consists of discrete layers of silk separated by gaps and the temperature in these compartments varies markedly. Caterpillars can adjust their body temperatures by moving from one compartment to another. On cool mornings they typically rest in a tight aggregate just under a sunlit surface of the tent. It is not uncommon to find that the temperature of the aggregate is as much as 30 °C (54 °F) warmer than the surrounding air temperature on cold but sunny spring mornings. Later on in the spring, temperatures may become excessive at mid day and the caterpillars may retreat to the shaded outside surface of the tent to cool down




  1. How interesting and what a great idea for the “home” challenge.

    • Thanks they are pretty weird and very interesting. When you look at the “tent” in person you can see all the caterpillars moving around. It is like a caterpillar condo! lol

  2. The intricacy and tenacity of these caterpillars is incredible. Love your comment about a condo! Do they do much damage to the tree?

    • The bush is call a “Cat Claw” or “Wait a Sec” Bush because it has thorns like cat claws. (When you pass it you have to say “Wait a Sec” as it pulls on your clothes.) They do not have much to them as they are desert plants. Very little foliage. No damage I have seen.

  3. As my little girl would say, “Ewww!” lol

    • It is really gross to see it in person as it looks alive with all the caterpillars in it. It is not just one but a whole community of them.

  4. That first photo is so beautiful and bizarre at the same time.

  5. Ugh! This reminds me that we are due for a swarm of them soon…At least it seems to improve the health of some trees. My sister (The Queen of Poo) says that after the army worms go through, my oak and plum trees should be free of the fungus-y, blight-y, creeping crud. And all the poo from the caterpillars adds nitrogen to the soil.

    Still, driving through a stand of aspen full of “army worms” was pretty disturbing. Their crushed bodies made the road slippery and were hanging down from the treetops by the thousands.

    • EWEeeeeee!!!!!

      • I am trying to see the sunny side lol. Mixed results, as usual. Did I mention you could HEAR them eating?

      • Yikes! Not sure I would like that! Sunny side, sunny side, sunny side!

      • Lol for the sunny side, I enjoyed your baby hummingbird webcam post. 🙂

      • You might like this eagle webcam in southern MN. 🙂

      • Thanks! Love it!

      • Welcome! Thanks for the hummingbird nest! 🙂

  6. Most interesting, I have never seen anything like that before.

  7. Yikes, wear a hat!

    • A hat and mask and gloves. I could go on but I get what you mean! lol

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