3 Wildlife Tent Experts Prepare You for the Great American Backyard Campout

from Wildlife Promise

We are just days away from this year’s Great American Backyard Campout, and to help get everyone pumped for the big event, our own David Mizejewski will be on the Today show this Thursday helping Kathy Lee and Hoda set up one of Coleman’s Instant Tents.

For inspiration and a few tent erecting tips, here are three tent-building animals:

Eastern Tent-Making Caterpillar

These fuzzy little moths-to-be are the “social butterflies” of the caterpillar world, preferring to live in groups rather than alone. Every spring, after emerging from their eggs, these caterpillars make their way up the tree and begin constructing silk tents that will serve as their communal home during their entire larval lives (6-8 weeks).

Tent-making caterpillars hanging around their silken tent. Flickr photo by Thure Johnson

Tent-making caterpillars hanging around their silken tent. Flickr photo by Thure Johnson

Inside the tent, which is built facing the sun, the caterpillars gather together between feedings for some good ol’ sun bathing. Acting like glass houses, these silken tree tents trap the heat of the morning sun and allow the caterpillars to warm more quickly than they would if they remained outside the tent. And, as eastern tent caterpillars grow, so do their tents, with most making daily improvements by adding new layers of silk.

Tip you can use: Unless you want to create a sauna, avoid pitching your tent in direct sunlight if possible.

Weaver Birds

Just as some humans prefer sleeping in tent hammocks while camping, weaver birds also prefer hanging structures for comfort. These creative chirpers, known as Ploceidae birds, are found throughout Africa and Asia and are famous for creating elaborate hanging nests.

Weaver birds use leaf fibers, grass and twigs to construct their nests, which vary in shape and size. Another social species, these birds will usually build their nests close together, often several to one branch.  Some species even build the nest equivalent of an apartment complex; with 100-300 bird pairs living together, each with their own chamber.

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Sounds like a lot of work, but the best nests attract the best partners. Even though male weaver birds tend to be brightly colored, it is not enough to attract a mate. Only the most elaborate, well constructed nests will lure in prospective females.

Tip you can use: Unlike weaver birds, you don’t want to put up your tent too close to another tent if camping with family and friends. A tent’s thin “walls” will let every sound, word and snore be heard. So do yourself a favor and give yourself some space.

Tent-Making Bat

These tent-making bats are keeping dry under their homemade leaf tent. Wikimedia photo by Charlesjsharp

These tent-making bats are keeping dry under their homemade leaf tent. Wikimedia photo by Charlesjsharp

Costa Rica’s tent-making bats might be small—adults are about 2.4 inches—but they are some of nature’s best architects. By biting through the middle vein of a large leaf until it folds in half, these fruit loving bats create inverted v-shaped “tents” that protect them from sun, wind and rain.  Once created, anywhere from 2 to 59 individual bats will take up residence inside the tent.

Despite being made from a single leaf, a bat tent can last up to 60 days! Considering that it can take these tiny bats several nights to chew throw a one leaf, it’s good to know they only have to do it once every few months.

Tip you can use: If you expect bad weather while camping, be sure to attach a rainfly to your tent. The rainfly is a special tarp that is spread over the top of the tent to make it waterproof.

 

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