Question of the Week Number 1: July 4, 2019

“How can I get rid of these nasty worms in my pecan? Will they kill the tree?”

At least where I live and garden (DFW), this is one of the worst years for webworms that I’ve seen for a while. They have cropped up in the past couple of weeks like billowing masses in our pecans, walnuts, persimmons and other trees and large shrubs.

Webworms have set up shop across much of Texas currently.

Will webworms kill the trees? No. They will seriously defoliate large parts of the trees. They’ll make them look ugly as the webs hang from the branches from now until frost. But they won’t kill the trees.

But you do need to take corrective action. And that is exactly why we have called this meeting.

Continued Below

What can you do if you have webworms?
What are the best ways of dealing with webworms?
Address them when you first see the webs. At that point you’ll have a comparatively small number of caterpillars living in a volleyball-sized web at the end of a branch.

Use a long-handled pole pruner to clip off the branch and let the web fall to the ground. Gather it up along with any other webs that you have clipped. Send them off with the trash. Be careful not to use the pole pruner anywhere near overhead utility lines.

If you have larger webs, use the saw attachment to your pole pruner to pull the webs apart. Birds will help you “harvest” the larvae, plus they will desiccate when exposed to the sun. You can also attach a strong coat hanger to the end of a piece of PVC pipe to break the webs open.

Ignore webs that are too high to reach. They’ll run their course, eventually falling to the ground as the tree loses its leaves late this fall.

Spraying is not an efficient option. It’s difficult to get sprays into the water-repelling webs, plus it takes power equipment to reach high into the trees.

Do not ever attempt to burn the webs out of trees. This is extremely dangerous. Serious injuries have resulted from people attempting to do so.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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