A single generation each year begins with an overwintering mass of eggs deposited on a branch by the female moth the previous summer, with up to 350 eggs in a single mass. The eggs hatch in the spring and the larvae immediately create a mass of webbing that they hide and feed within, feeding until late spring and early summer when they pupate on the trunks and nearby structures. The larvae continue to feed gregariously until mature. They feed on a wide variety of deciduous trees, and commonly on cherry, peach, apple, hawthorn, and other members of the rose family, as well as oak, maple, birch, and other ornamentals. In heavy infestations entire trees will be defoliated, and this may result in the larvae leaving the tree and migrating in massive numbers to other trees, crossing streets, sidewalks, fences, etc.
The use of chemical sprays is often necessary to kill the larvae, including both synthetic insecticides as well as natural materials such as Bacillus thuringiensis. Sprays should be directed onto the tents where the larvae are located, and early morning applications may more easily contact the larvae as they warm themselves at the surface of the tent.