The Forest Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) is a widespread native defoliator of deciduous forests in the Eastern US. While host trees differ regionally, the insect prefers sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), tupelo gum, black gum (Nyssa spp.) and species of oak (Quercus spp.) in the bottomland forests of North Carolina's Coastal Plain.
The larvae hatch in early spring as the tree buds swell, then larvae defoliate emerging and growing leaves in April and early May. After a few weeks, caterpillars form pupae, then adults emerge in late May.