Rappelling caterpillars?

  1. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    With the warm weather of the past couple of weeks, I've been frequently running into small caterpillars (about 1-2 cm long and about 2 mm in diameter) dangling from tree branches on long threads. I usually have to brush a few of them off my clothes after walking across campus, or between home and campus. On my way to lunch today, I snagged one of the threads on the visor of my cap, leaving the critter dangling in front of my eyes.

    What are these things?
  2. jcsd
  3. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Snap a pic next time you see one :smile:
  4. turbo

    turbo 7,063
    Gold Member

    Lots of caterpillars start out tiny, but can spin silk to distribute themselves. That's probably how the tent caterpillars get around and colonize trees. Lately, we have had lots of tiny spiders floating around, but not the caterpillars (yet). With this year's super-mild winter, I might be doing a lot of pruning and burning this summer to get rid of them.
  5. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    I didn't carry a camera with me while walking today, but I just noticed one sitting on my mouse. It must have fallen off my clothes. Or maybe it fell out of my beard. :uhh: Here it is, thanks to my webcam:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 23, 2012
  6. chemisttree

    chemisttree 3,717
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I've got them all over my Red Oak trees as well. They jump off the tree and dangle from silk threads to avoid predators. There are many different species that do this.
  7. jtbell

    Staff: Mentor

    I'm not the only person around here who's noticed them. Today's daily campus announcements e-mail has the following at the top:

Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thead via email, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?
Similar discussions for: Rappelling caterpillars?