The caterpillars are hairy with areas of blue, white, black and orange. The blue and white colors are structural colors created by the selective filtering of light by microtubules that arise on the cuticle. Tent caterpillars are among the most social of larvae. The adult moth lays her eggs in a single batch in late spring or early summer. An egg mass contains about 200 to 300 eggs. The newly hatched caterpillars initiate the construction of a silk tent soon after emerging. At the last stage, the caterpillars disperse and each constructs a cocoon in a protected place. The adult moths, or imagoes, emerge about two weeks later. They are strictly nocturnal and start flying after nightfall, coming to rest within a few hours of dawn. The eastern tent caterpillar is of some importance as a pest because it defoliates ornamental trees.
Most commonly found in abundance in their tents on trees in the spring/summer.