Lloyd and Harry from ‘Dumb & Dumber’ wanted to name their pet store “I Got Worms” because they were going to specialize in worm farms, much like ant farms of course. They were talking about earthworms, but today I want to talk about something a bit more annoying, and certainly not cute like a worm farm. These are worms that are not fun to look at and can be damaging to your plants and trees, they are web worms.
Sometimes called silk worms, web worm caterpillars are a common pest of trees. They attack around 90 different kinds of plans, including many fruit, nut, and ornamental trees and shrubs. Their feeding preference varies depending on location. We’ve been seeing them primarily in pecan trees recently, but they are also attacking maple, mulberry, poplar, willow, oak, and hickory trees around Texas.
The web masses these pests produce are quite unsightly and they kill or consume the leaves and branches that they inhabit. Although rarely fatal to the tree by themselves, infestations that reoccur over several years can stress the trees and make them more susceptible to drought, disease, or other insect pests which can be fatal.
There are a few pesticide free tactics that can be used to get rid of webworms, but they all require being able to reach the web.
- Ripping open the web makes the worms available for meals for birds, wasps, and other animals that might feed on them if made accessible.
- Cutting the branch off will eliminate the live webworms feeding on that branch (You might miss some though…read on).
- Lighting a torch and placing it inside the web will kill or force out any webworms present.
Of course, if you can’t reach the webs, none of these tactics will help you. Also, webworms lay their eggs on the underside of leaves or on nearby branches. Just cutting out the branches with heavy web infestations leaves you at risk of missing many other budding infestations or conglomerations of eggs in different places.
Trees and shrubs can be treated effectively by a professional pest control company and can rid your trees and shrubs of any webworm infestations. The combination of a professional treatment and pruning the infested branches will give you the best chance of completely ridding yourself of these pests.