There are many types of pests that can attack your backyard fruit trees, including fall webworms. Here are three things you need to know about fall webworms and your trees.
What are fall webworms?
Fall webworms are a type of moth that are native to North America. These moths lay their eggs on the undersides of leaves in the spring, and when the eggs hatch into caterpillars, they create large, messy nests between the branches of the tree. As the caterpillars grow, they feed on the leaves of the tree, and four to six weeks later, they pupate. They remain in their cocoons for the winter, and in the spring, the adult moths hatch and the process begins again.
How do fall webworms affect your trees?
These pests can cause a number of problems for you and your trees. First, their nests are large and messy, which ruins the appearance of your otherwise-attractive trees. Fruit trees can enhance the look of your backyard, but not when they're covered in pests!
The other problem caused by fall webworms is that the caterpillars feed on leaves. If your fruit trees are small, they can completely defoliate your tree. If your trees are larger, the caterpillars will usually only defoliate certain limbs of the trees. The caterpillars also eat the fruit that's growing on the tree, and your fruit will have shallow grooves where the pests have been feeding. The fruits may also be shrivelled and small.
If your tree is otherwise healthy, it won't be permanently harmed by the pest invasion. However, if your trees are weakened by disease, rot, poor pruning, lack of water or other factors, the fall webworms could be the last straw for your trees.
How can you control fall webworms?
If you notice the appearance of webs on your fruit trees, don't ignore them. The webs can be manually removed by pruning the affected limbs and branches. Once the webs have been removed, make sure to destroy them so that they can't re-infest your trees or someone else's trees.
Insecticides can also be used to get rid of the fall webworm infestation. Insecticides should be sprayed on the leaves when the caterpillars are still small. Early treatment is important because you want to get rid of the caterpillars before the leaf damage can become extensive. Many types of insecticides will kill these caterpillars, but if you choose a product that contains permethrin, it will also be effective against other tree pests that may be present, like beetles and borers.
If you need help dealing with fall webworms, hire a professional arborist like Able Scape, Inc.