Gypsy Moths? Help me identify these leaf-eating caterpillars

I know Minnetonka and Richfield were recently sprayed for gypsy months, and yesterday my neighbor and I found these caterpillars on a small tree in our alley in Chaska. These guys are hungry.

What are these?

From using the Google machine, I can’t immediately rule out if they they are gypsy moths nor tent caterpillars, mainly because these photos don’t show all of the larval stages.

What are these?

Got any ideas for me? And should I be notifying the Minnesota Department of Agriculture or another organization?

9 Comments so far

  1. Fiona (quick13) on June 3rd, 2009 @ 10:38 pm
  2. Fiona (quick13) on June 3rd, 2009 @ 11:57 pm

    Though they do look as though they may be Eastern Tent caterpillars with the webbing on the leaves as well. Great caterpillar identification site here: But considering how destructive a group like that can be to foliage I would do something to get rid of them, a simple Neem spray should do the trick, natural and harmless to plants.

  3. Robert Moffitt (justpbob) on June 4th, 2009 @ 8:47 am

    They look like tent catepillers to me. Is the tree they are eating a fruit tree (such as a crab apple)? Tent catepillers have a particular fondness for fruit trees.

  4. bigticketdw on June 4th, 2009 @ 8:56 am

    I saw these all over the place when I was in Colorado last week, and was told they are western tent caterpillars. Apparently, they are quite a nuisance to local foliage there.

  5. Fiona (quick13) on June 4th, 2009 @ 10:38 am

    These guys go after your trees but there are a lot of other hungry things out there ready to attach your veggies and other plants. K-Neem spray or this is great info for preserving your garden & trees from these munching demons.

  6. aboutinsects on June 4th, 2009 @ 9:34 pm

    Hi. I’m Debbie, the Guide to Insects on These are the caterpillars of mourning cloak butterflies, not tent caterpillars! Mourning cloak butterflies are unusual in that they spend the winter as adults, and are often the earliest butterflies you’ll see in spring.

  7. greg on June 4th, 2009 @ 10:18 pm

    Yes! Debbie, that’s exactly what they are. Should I worry they’ll spread to my trees, or is this just a seasonal, few leaves at a time kind of caterpillar?

    Note: it really doesn’t matter now, because when I went out this morning they were gone.

  8. David (jacc) on June 5th, 2009 @ 1:03 pm

    " it really doesn’t matter now, because when I went out this morning they were gone."

    You ate them didn’t you?

    Way to go Debbie!

  9. aboutinsects on June 5th, 2009 @ 1:15 pm

    If they’ve disappeared, they’ve likely wandered off to pupate so you shouldn’t have anymore damage on your trees. The adult butterflies emerge in summer, but aestivate (stay dormant) until fall. Unlike most butterflies, mourning cloaks don’t nectar on flowers, or do so rarely. Instead, you’ll see them on the trunks of trees, feeding on tree sap. Cool, eh?

    I’d love to use on of your photos on my site. If you’d be willing to give me permission, please email me at (at) and let me know how you would like your photo credited.


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