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Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Posted by susanlynne48 OKC7a (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 19, 10 at 14:12

I have caterpillars forming loose webbing on the tips of my Baptisia australis var. minor, Blue Wild Indigo. Lots of them relative to the size of the plant. I thought these kinds of caterpillars only attacked trees???

The cats are yellowish/greenish with black and white markings. I will try to get a photo. Head is black as well. They are kind of colorful, but they are destroyihg my Wild Indigo. Definitely not WIDs.

I'm mainly just trying to confirm that webworms and/or tent caterpillars use other shrubs or forbs as hosts.

We have lots of insects this year. I was watering my beans this morning, and found two Salt Marsh cats mating on a leaf near the bottom!

Susan


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Hi Susan,

Webworm is the common name most often associated with Hyphantria cunea (Arctiidae). While they are definitely polyphagous feeders, I dont think they use Fabaceae. Arctiidae was one of my specialties, but its been years and it is a large group so I certainly dont remember everything. Even so I doubt thats what you have.

The so called tent caterpillars are one of many Malacosoma species (Lasiocampidae). They are extremely polyphagous and use a very long list of plants (not just trees, but just about anything). Over the years Ive seen them on dozens of different species of shrubs and bushes, flowers, vegetables and even a few herbs as well as a long list of trees. They are one of those "if I find it I will eat it" bugs. So my guess is you are dealing with one of the Malacosoma species. There ought to be lots of articles on control on the Internet at state AG sites.

BTW, how do Salt Marsh (Estigmene acrea) "caterpillars" mate? LOL ;)

Larry


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Oops - my bad! I was so focused on trying to figure out what these darned larvae are on my Baptisia I failed to pay attention to what I was typing. Sorry....

Thank you for giving me something to at least start with on these other caterpillars. They feed approx. 2-4 to a the leaf tip of one branch and migrate down the tips to the older leaves, skeletonizing the leaves as they go. There are cobwebby type connections around the leaves, not a lot, and a few from one leaf tip group to another leaf tip group. Strangest things I've encountered. Will let everyone know when I figure it out.

Thanks for the help, Larry!

Susan


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Susan,

Yep, I fell into the common name trap and the old scant description without a picture trap that doesn't even get them to a family let alone genus. Assumed to much too, that with your experience you at least had them to Lasiocampidae and was just confusing the common names. With something like 2-3 dozen species of Malacosoma alone (most of which I've never seen) and their very variable larvae, I couldn't get them to species level in that genus anyway. Sorry I didn't help, but the control methods I mentioned should work on them no matter what they are.

Good luck,

Larry


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Larry, I've come to the tentative conclusion that they are larva of Malacosoma disstria, Forest Tent caterpillars. Unlike their counterpart, the Eastern Tent caterpillars or Malacosoma americanus (?), the larva spin loose webs on the tips of foliage, and string single strands from one branch tip to another so they can easily move between branch tips. This brings to my mind a kinda of caterpillar "high wire" act. Kinda cute, doncha think? They have a wide degree of color variation in the caterpillars, and mine have yet to develop the "blue" line which is strongly indicative of the larva. I almost hate to destroy them because they have done such a beautiful macrame network of their webbing, LOL! It's been kind of fascinating to watch them.

You definitely pointed me in the right direction with what little info I gave you. I gave the camera I got to my daughter to take photos of the baby, so I ordered another one today and should have it in about a week. They may not be here by then, but if they are, I'll take a photo for a definite ID.

Thank you so much for your help. It is greatly appreciated!

Susan


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Beauty has its place...but not in your plants--unless you planted them to be eaten! When it comes to web worms/tents, I figure they can thrive plenty of other places rather than my garden.

Anna


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

I had them bad in my mulberry tree and my yard guy cut the tree back instead of spraying. He didn't burn the branches either, he stacked them up for the city to clear away. Now I have HUGE caterpillars everywhere, it seems like there are millions of them. How can I get rid of them? Doesn't seem like the birds are eating them. Do they sting? My son thinks they're neat to look at but I don't want him being hurt.


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Susan,

Your larvae are Uresiphita reversalis, family: Pyralidae, common name Genista Broom Moth. I have them too. So does Lisa. You can see them on Bugguide. I posted a photo on bugguide and got a quick response. See Lisa's post for a photo. The moth is pink with yellow underwings--kind of pretty.

Sandy


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Ah, this must be a prolific year for the Genista Broom Moth if all three of us have them.

Hmmmm. I guess I'll leave them alone. They are stripping my baptisia though.

Anyone know of a reason I should interfere with them?

Lisa


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

We raise pecans, and this is shaping up as a bad year for us with variable rain and now an influx of caterpillars. They can cause extensive defoliation if allowed to remain unchecked, and potentially that threatens the health of the trees. So, for us, control is an important issue. BUT I have had my curiosity piqued, so I will be looking out to see what they actually are before making them go away!

Anna


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Alas, I am doing really badly in the ID department this year. Thanks, guys.

Susan


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RE: Does anyone know about Webworms/Tent Cats?

Mine are Hyphantria cunea...how can I get rid of the caterpillars that are now everywhere? Help?


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