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Photos: Caterpillars take up residence in aspen trees north of Durango

A gang of Western tent caterpillars have taken up residence in acres of aspen trees north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest. The insects construct their silken tents on aspen tree branches and feed on the leaves. The eating frenzy leaves large swaths of aspen trees bare of foliage. If the caterpillars don’t show up over several successive years, the trees should refoliate. Natural predators such as bears, birds and wild turkeys feed on the caterpillars. When fully grown, the caterpillar will leave the tree and look for a safe place to spin their cocoons. The larvae eventually pupate and emerge as moths in late summer.
A gang of Western tent caterpillars have taken up residence in acres of aspen trees north of Durango in the San Juan National Forest. The insects construct their silken tents on aspen tree branches and feed on the leaves. The eating frenzy leaves large swaths of aspen trees bare of foliage. If the caterpillars don’t show up over several successive years, the trees should refoliate. Natural predators such as bears, birds and wild turkeys feed on the caterpillars. When fully grown, the caterpillars will leave the tree and look for a safe place to spin their cocoons. The larvae eventually pupate and emerge as moths in late summer. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Tent caterpillars have moved into a grove of aspen trees near the Needles area west of U.S. Highway 550. The leaves on acres of trees have been eaten away by the insects and their young. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Tent caterpillars have moved into a grove of aspen trees near the Needles area west of U.S. Highway 550. The leaves on acres of trees have been eaten away by the insects and their young. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Tent caterpillars have moved into a grove of aspen trees near the Needles area west of U.S. Highway 550. The leaves on acres of trees have been eaten away by the insects and their young. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Tent caterpillars build their cocoons with eggs inside away from the main tent in aspen trees near the Needles area west of U.S. Highway 550. The leaves have been eaten away by the insects and their young. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Tent caterpillars have moved into a grove of aspen trees near the Needles area west of U.S. Highway 550. The leaves on acres of trees have been eaten away by the insects and their young. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
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