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Tent caterpillars are moderately sized species in the genus Malacosoma and in the moth family Lasiocampidae. Species occur in North America, including Mexico, and in Eurasia. Twenty-six species have been described, six of which occur in North America. Some species are considered to have subspecies as well. They are often considered pests due to their habit of defoliating trees. They are among the most social of all caterpillars and exhibit many noteworthy behaviors.
Tent caterpillars are readily recognized because they are social, colorful, diurnal and build conspicuous silk tents in the branches of host trees. Some species, such as the eastern tent caterpillar, Malacosoma americanum, build a single large tent which is typically occupied through the whole of the larval stage, while others build a series of small tents that are sequentially abandoned. Whereas tent caterpillars make their tents in the nodes and branches of a tree's limbs, webworms enclose leaves and small branches at the ends of the limbs. (Information provided by Wikipedia)