Group living, prevalent in many lepidopterans, has many benefits and costs to fitness. In caterpillars, the use of silk trails often mediates group living. This study focused on forest tent caterpillars (Malacosoma disstria) to determine the effectiveness of silk produced by conspecifics in attracting other caterpillars. Ten forest tent caterpillars were placed in Petri dishes containing a leaf with silk on one side and a leaf without silk on the other side. The caterpillars did not seem to prefer either side, though the caterpillars that produced silk during the observation period seemed to lean toward the side with silk. Although our sample size was small, this would suggest that caterpillars utilize cues left by other individuals of their species.
Williams, Peter; Ogdahl, Eric.
Role of Conspecific Silk in Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) Group Behavior.
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