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Cover photo of three species of caterpillars

Caterpillars of Eastern Forests

by

David L Wagner1
Valerie Giles2
Richard C. Reardon3
Michael L. McManus4


Introduction

For better and for worse, caterpillars are integral to the health of our forests. Populations of more than 20 species of eastern forest Lepidoptera may reach densities that result in the defoliation of hundreds or thousands of acres. Tannins, alkaloids, mineral spirits, latexes, spices, and many pharmaceuticals are manufactured by plants, at least in part, to deter hungry caterpillars. Caterpillars are the dietary staple of many forest mammals and birds, and without them there would be fewer songbirds to welcome each spring. Some caterpillars ingest fallen leaves, thereby hastening decomposition and soil formation.

Despite these and many other roles that caterpillars play in forest ecosystems, there is but modest literature for their identification. Moreover, much of what is written is technical in nature, out of print, or focused on a single family.

Our intent in preparing this guide is to enable forest managers, extension entomologists, and nonspecialists to identify many of the eastern region's most frequently encountered species. It is also our wish that this guide will promote a greater appreciation for the remarkable caterpillar biodiversity of eastern forest and woodland ecosystems.


This resource is based on the following source:
Wagner, David L., Valerie Giles, Richard C. Reardon, and Michael L. 
     McManus.  1997.  Caterpillars of Eastern Forests.  U.S. Department 
     of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise 
     Team, Morgantown, West Virginia.  FHTET-96-34.  113 pp.  

This resource should be cited as:

Wagner, David L., Valerie Giles, Richard C. Reardon, and Michael L. 
     McManus.  1997.  Caterpillars of Eastern Forests.  U.S. Department 
     of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise 
     Team, Morgantown, West Virginia.  FHTET-96-34.  113 pp.  Jamestown, 
     ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online.  
     http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/insects/cateast/index.htm 
     (Version 11APR2001).

Table of Contents


1 University of Connecticut, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Storrs, Connecticut
2 Orbisonia, Pennsylvania
3 USDA Forest Service, Forest Health Technology Enterprise Team, Morgantown, West Virginia
4 USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Northeastern Center for Forest Health at Hamden, Connecticut
USDA logo   United States Department
of Agriculture
Forest Service November 1997
A reprint of this resource can be obtained at http://www.fs.fed.us/foresthealth/technology/order.shtml. Specify order no. FHTET-96-34

Downloading Instructions -- Instructions on downloading and extracting files from this site.
(Download) cateast.zip (4.6M) -- Caterpillars of Eastern Forests
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