Forest tent caterpillar: Identification

Caterpillar: The forest tent caterpillar is colorful, with many hairs. The sides of its body are blue with narrow orange stripes, and the back is black with footprint or keyhole-shaped white markings.

Newly hatched caterpillars are black with obvious hairs and are about ⅛-inch long. Mature caterpillars are 2 to 2½ inches in length.

Forest tent caterpillar

Egg Masses: Eggs are laid in masses wrapped around the twigs of trees and shrubs in late June to mid-July. New egg masses are ½-inch long and covered with glossy, dark brown, glue-like material that protects the eggs during winter. They blend in with the tree, and look like a swollen spot on a twig from a distance.

Forest tent caterpillar egg mass

Moth (Adult): The adult moth is tan and has a broad brown band across the front wings. FTC moths are night fliers and are attracted to lights in large numbers.

Forest tent caterpillars as a moth