Common Caterpillars in Maryland


There are many kinds of caterpillars found in the state of Maryland. Some of these common caterpillars are found in the forest. Because of how they feed and where they are found, some of these caterpillars are harmful to the forests, causing defoliation. Although the damage is not usually widespread, some of these kinds of caterpillars can be considered pests.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

  • The Eastern tent caterpillar, found in Maryland, is black with white stripes running along the center of its back, a row of light blue spots on each side and thin light brown hairs on its body. This caterpillar feeds on crab apples, wild and ornamental cherries and grows to be about 2 inches long. The caterpillars hatch from eggs in the spring and spin tent-like cocoons at the bottom of tree branches.

Forest Tent Caterpillar

  • The forest tent caterpillar grows to be about 2 inches long. Its head and body are blue with white spots running down its back and thin orange stripes on its sides. Found in Maryland, the forest tent caterpillar feeds on sugar maple, aspen, oak, black gum and sweetgum trees. The eggs hatch in the spring and the caterpillars cluster on the sides of the trees they feedson.

Variable Oakleaf Caterpillar

  • The variable oakleaf caterpillar, found in Maryland, varies in color, from a yellow-green to a muted red. They have a thin white stripe down the middle of the back and two thicker yellow stripes on the sides of the body. This caterpillar has an amber head with a light and dark stripe on each side of the head. It measures about 2 inches in length. Oak trees, especially the white oak, provide food.

Yellow-Headed Caterpillar

  • The yellow-headed caterpillar, also found in Maryland, has a yellow and black striped body with white hairs and a black head with an orange section. When disturbed, it curls up into a unique U shape. Feeding on oaks, walnut and other hardwood trees, the yellow-headed caterpillar can grow up to 2 inches long.

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