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Any mothlarva of the genus Malacosoma (family Lasiocampidae). Tent caterpillars are often brightly coloured. Congregations of the eastern tent caterpillar (M. americanum) of eastern North America spin huge, tent-shaped communal nests in forked tree branches. Eggs the moth deposits on a tree in midsummer hatch in spring. The hatched caterpillars migrate to a tree crotch and construct a silken tent, which they leave each day throughout the summer to feed on the surrounding leaves. The forest tent caterpillar (M. disstria) is common in the southern U.S.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tent caterpillar, visit Britannica.com.