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Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Eastern Tent Caterpillar
Photo Information
Copyright: Randy Dillinger (Dillinger) Silver Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 44 W: 16 N: 63] (217)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2009-06-18
Exposure: f/2.8
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2009-06-23 10:26
Viewed: 3142
Favorites: 1 [view]
Points: 6
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I visited the Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary near White Cloud, Michigan, while on vacation last week. I was hoping to find an amazing variety of flowers in this little paradise inside the Manistee National Forest. And while there was some diversity of flowers, I was a little disappointed not to find that vast carpet of blooms I was hoping for. Never mind, though, there was plenty of life to see.

Here is what I believe to be an Eastern Tent Caterpillar (corrections are welcome if I have misidentified). This little guy is crawling on one of the many cages that surrounds the plants in the sanctuary.

The Eastern Tent Caterpillar, according to Wikipedia, is "a univoltine [has one brood per year], social species that forms communal nests in the branches of trees. ... The caterpillars are hairy with areas of blue, white, black and orange. The blue and white colors are structural colors created by the selective filtering of light by microtubules that arise on the cuticle.

"In terms of complexity of interactions, the Tent Caterpillar stands near the pinnacle of caterpillar sociality. The adult moth lays her eggs in a single batch in late spring or early summer. The egg masses contain on average 200-300 eggs. Embryogenesis proceeds rapidly and within three weeks fully formed caterpillars can be found within the eggs. But the small caterpillars lie quiescent until the following spring, chewing their way through the shells of their eggs just as the buds of the host tree begin to expand.

"The newly hatched caterpillars initiate the construction of a silk tent soon after emerging. They typically aggregate at the tent site for the whole of their larval life, expanding the tent each day to accommodate their increasing size. ...

"The tent of the eastern tent caterpillar is among the largest built by any tent caterpillar. The tents are constructed in the crotch of the host tree and are typically oriented so that the broadest face of the structure faces the southeast, taking advantage of the morning sun. ...

"Eastern tent caterpillars are among the earliest of caterpillars to appear in the spring. Because the early spring weather is often cold, the caterpillars rely on the heat of the sun to elevate their body temperatures to levels that allow them to digest their food. ...

"Tent caterpillars, like many other species of social caterpillars, vigorously thrash the anterior part of their bodies when they detect predators and parasitoids. Such bouts of thrashing, which may be initiated by a single caterpillar, radiate rapidly though the colony and may result in group displays involving dozens of caterpillars. ...

"The eastern tent caterpillar is of some importance as a plant pest since it may defoliate ornamental trees. Defoliated trees, however, rarely suffer significant damage and typically refoliate within several weeks. More seriously, the caterpillar has been implicated in Mare Reproductive Loss Syndrome (MRLS), but the exact mechanism by which the caterpillar triggers abortion in horses has yet to be determined. Many different theories have been proposed, but many scientists now believe that the hairs of the caterpillar act as tubes that, once puncturing the digestive tract, allow bacteria to escape into the uterus."

KRALKOBRA, horias has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Randy,

Good way to use your camera. A f/2.8 excellent approach, with good details to the forefront of the insect and a brilliant use of the grid where it sits.

Good job, congratulations!


  • Great 
  • horias Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 837 W: 58 N: 2084] (11033)
  • [2009-07-19 3:07]

Hi Randy,
Great macro,wonderful colors and sharpness. Congratulation!

  • Great 
  • Nilson Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 488 W: 0 N: 566] (4423)
  • [2009-08-01 16:46]

Hello Randy

Nice shot with good colors, details, lighting and exposition. The composition is amazing.
Well done

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