Found in the Eastern United States; from New England south through Texas and west to Nebraska
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.
General information about
Eastern Tent Caterpillers :
Tent caterpillars secrete silk from a spinneret wherever they go and frequently used pathways soon bear conspicuous silk trails. As the caterpillars move about the tree, they largely confine their movements to these trails. Curiously, it is not the silk that they follow but a trail pheromone secreted from the posterior tip of their abdomen. Caterpillars deposit exploratory trails by dragging the tip of their abdomen as they move over the tree in search of food. Caterpillars that find food and feed overmark the exploratory trails they follow back to the tent, creating recruitment trails. Recruitment trails are much more attractive to the caterpillars than exploratory trails and they serve to lead hungry caterpillars directly to the newest food finds. It is possible for a single successful forager to recruit the entire colony to its food find. Tent caterpillars are readily recognized because they are social, colorful, diurnal and build conspicuous silk tents in the branches of host trees