That’s probably the thought that comes to your mind when you see large, silky looking nests in your trees. You’re probably wondering what kind of spider builds something like that, but the truth is – it’s not a spider. Its tent caterpillars or webworms. Today, we’re going to talk about what webworms are, why the webs are what they are and how you can get rid of them. Let’s jump right in.
Fall webworms are a kind of caterpillar that weaves thick webs around areas where they’re feeding on a tree. They mostly prioritize fruit trees, but they’re not afraid to look elsewhere for a meal. In fact, they have been known to feed on more than 100 different kinds of trees.
If you’re noticing these webs in the spring, then it’s probably a tent caterpillar that you’re dealing with. These guys aren’t good for your tree’s looks, but unless it’s a black cherry tree that they’re chomping on – they pose almost no real threat to the health of your trees except making things a little ugly for a period of time.
Conversely – you’ll see webworms in the fall. They’ll lay their eggs in the spring and when they hatch in the summer, they get busy chomping away on leaves to prepare themselves for the coming cold. In the fall is when they spin their webs – and the combination of leaves falling off the canopy and webs accumulating in their place.
Eastern Tent Caterpillars hatch in March and quickly build their webs for shelter in April. After that, they’ll spin a cocoon and emerge as a moth a few weeks later. Then, they lay their eggs and begin the cycle all over again.
Are they dangerous to my tree?
The short answer is ‘not really.’ They’re not poisonous, they don’t do much damage to established trees, and they don’t multiply like crazy. They’re ugly for sure, but that’s about it. At least insofar as established, healthy, adult trees are concerned - you have next to nothing to be concerned about.
That being said – there is a threat to younger trees. They can cause leaf loss before a tree has a chance to really get out of the starting blocks and as you’d guess – that can cause a myriad of developmental issues. In this specific situation, you don’t want to mess around and it’s important that you get them exterminated. There are a number of ways you can go about this.
How you can get rid of them
First thing you’ll want to do is to simply use a broom to improve the look of the tree and clear out the webs. Next you’ll want to use an insecticide to remove the pests. As a caveat, we would like to point out that anytime you get into chemicals, it’s probably a good idea to call an arborist or a professional exterminator. It’s not an expensive fix, but like any insecticide, if you apply it incorrectly you can create problems with the tree – problems that could turn into expensive fixes if you’re not careful. That and you’re dealing with chemicals so any time you get the chance to avoid them, you should probably take advantage of it.
If you’re finding that you have a younger tree that’s having issues with webs in their branches, give us a call today and we’ll be happy to give you a free consultation.