Information on RNR Estate Winery and Army Worm Wine

The forest tent caterpillar (Malacosoma disstria) prefers hardwoods like sugar maples and oaks. The term “tent” caterpillar is a little misleading as these insects don’t construct large tent-nests in the crooks of trees. Instead, they spin pad-like structures on trunks and on branches where they go to rest and to molt.

While most Northlanders consider their presence unsightly, their defoliation rarely kills host trees unless the trees are already diseased or under stress due to climatic or other environmental factors.

A 5-gallon pail of
army worms

5 gallons of worms
5 gallons of worms

Forest tent caterpillar larvae emerge from egg masses in mid-May to early June (about the same time most leaves begin to open) when older larvae become restless and move around trees and other vegetation to find food. Significant damage to nearby plants can also occur at this time. The caterpillars feed actively on aspen, popple, birch and other broadleaf trees for five to six weeks.

In mid-season the females lay masses of 150 to 350 shiny brown eggs. After consuming almost every leaf in sight, the army worms then cocoon and emerge as moths in late July. Their cycle reoccurs once per decade and lasts 2-3 years, usually with the second year being the most densely populated.

I got the idea for army worm wine from a co-worker who told me that his grandfather used to make it “back in the old days.” As far as the process goes, I simply treated them as a combination of a fruit and a flower, after all, they eat leaves. Other ingredients include sugar, water, champagne yeast (from Canada), yeast nutrient, pectic enzymes, acid blend and campden tablets. This wine was made in Duluth, Minnesota in small batches using highly sterile equipment. It registers approximately 11% alcohol on the vino-meter.


2002-2012 RNR Estate Winery – all rights reserved.
2002/2003 Army Worm Wine – all rights reserved.

Army worms on a tree