Despite the seasonal name, fall webworm emerges from its wintering stage as a moth during late spring and summer, while the caterpillar's webbing is most noticeable as fall approaches.
This pest is generally noticed when its silken web nests envelop tree branches or even small trees. The caterpillars feed on more than 100 species of forest, fruit and shade trees. Some of the favored hosts include:
- Wild Cherry
- Black Walnut
Large masses of unsightly webbing on the ends of tree branches are the most noticeable indication of the presence of fall webworms. Mature caterpillars eat everything but the larger leaf veins, always feeding inside their web and expanding its size as more food is needed.
The larvae are pale yellow or greenish-yellow with either black or red heads and with two rows of black spots on their backs. Their bodies have scattered long hairs.
Treatment and Management
- When practical, prune and destroy nests
- Help promote tree vitality by fertilizing, mulching and watering trees that are infected
- While the larvae are small, treat with an insecticide