Tent caterpillars - okay for chickens?

FlagChick

In the Brooder
10 Years
Nov 4, 2009
39
1
32
Flagstaff, AZ
Does anyone know if tent caterpillars are safe for chickens to eat? I'd hate to give them treats and poison them... I'm not sure of the kind of caterpillar - they're black and fuzzy and on an aspen tree.
 

chicmom

Dances with Chickens
10 Years
Feb 24, 2009
8,696
275
316
Strasburg Ohio
We've got them all over the place, and my hens won't touch them. So I'm thinking they aren't tasty.....chickens just know sometimes.
 

lleighmay

Songster
11 Years
May 21, 2008
508
8
141
Woodlawn, VA
As far as I know they aren't poisonous but I think they may taste bad. My chickens won't touch them and, come to think of it, I've never seen any other birds eating them either. Mine don't seem to mess with any "fuzzy" caterpillars, but they love grubs and earthworms.
 

Pet Duck Boy

Songster
10 Years
Dec 12, 2009
1,373
14
161
Orlando, FL
I'm pretty sure most fuzzy/hairy caterpillars irritate the skin. I remember holding a fuzzy one when I was little and got a huge rash on my hand that itched like heck!
 
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A2Kzoo2

Chirping
5 Years
Dec 28, 2014
88
18
66
SW MI
Actually many birds will eat tent worms (chickadees, bluebirds, etc; see www.rivercare.org/news/tent-caterpillars-are-for-the-birds). I don't know about chickens, though. My silkies don't seem very interested. Also, tent worm hairs don't usually cause rashes, unless a person is allergic. Some other fuzzy caterpillars can sometimes irritate the skin, but it depends on the species and the person.
 

Sea2Ski

In the Brooder
May 9, 2016
46
2
37
Southeast PA
I agree that I think they must taste bad. I have watched some wild birds eat them. My new pullets who do not have a mother hen to teach them were eating everything in sight when they were allowed to free range for the first day. I watched one bird run over to a tent caterpillar and peck at it, then it picked it up then dropped it and "washed" her beak. I think if she could spit, she would have. Another pullet saw that one, grabbed the now dropped caterpillar and did the same thing. Like most of yours, my girls are spoiled. While I do not think the tent caterpillars are poisonous, I think they are way down on the list of what tastes good and our birds will opt for many other things first. While they are always eating, they are not starving by any means. I also believe wild birds are just opportunistic feeders and therefore not as picky just to survive. They do not have the luxury of having mealworms and other goodies thrown to them regularly and and an endless supply of easily obtainable food.

At least that is my hypothesis, it is reasonable in my head so I am sticking with the plausible explanation.
And now that you have read it on the web, it is fact. Right? Ha ha...
 

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