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Thursday, May 5, 2016

Handling fall webworms

Thursday, August 11, 2011

(Photo)
It's not even officially fall yet and the fall webworms are making their presence known.

Their presence can be found by looking at the trees around Clay and Owen counties and seeing leaves and branches covered in webs.

These webs are produced by white to tan fuzzy caterpillars that have black dots on their back.

Fall webworms are known to be a nuisance on more than 85 different tree species in the United States.

Locally, we see them on Maples, Walnut, American Elm, Hickories, Birches and several other species of trees.

Generally, the caterpillars will feed on the leaves of the trees for up to six weeks while making their webs.

They build the webs as a way to protect themselves from predators.

Even though they are often only feeding on the leaves for six weeks, their nuisance last longer in much of Indiana since there can be a second generation of caterpillars anywhere south of United States 30.

This second set of caterpillars will feed on into September.

These insects are a nuisance because they create unsightly webs and will defoliate entire trees.

However, there is some good news. The late season defoliation is close to when the trees will naturally start dropping their leaves, so it will not harm the overall health of the tree.

Additionally, you can remove the webs if they are small by simply pruning that part of the branch off and destroying it.

If the web is large, then you might think about using a pesticide to help control the fall webworms.

There are many different pesticides available on the market to be used.

A list of those pesticides available can be found in the Purdue Extension publication E-255-W, "Fall Webworms." You can obtain a copy of the publication by contacting your local Purdue Extension Office or going to http://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publica....

If you would like to use a pesticide, please remember to read and follow all label instructions. When selecting a pesticide, those listed as "Biorational" have less of an impact on predatory (good) insects while those that are listed as "Rescue" have more of an impact.

The use of a pesticide will not remove the web. However, it will stop the fall webworms from adding to the web.

If you want the web removed, you can try spraying it down with a high pressure sprayer or allowing it to slowly decay over the winter.

Just a reminder, there are still a few spots available for those interested in signing up for the Indiana Master Naturalist Course.

The course will start Aug. 22, and will be on Monday nights from 6-9 p.m., at the Clay County Extension Office.

The course lasts for eight weeks with no class on Labor Day. The cost is $55 and covers the expenses associated with all course materials.

The course will cover topics such as invasive plants, edible plants, water quality, soils, butterflies and more. If you are interested in signing up, call 448-9041.

As always, if you have any questions or would like information on any agriculture, horticulture, or natural resource topic, then please contact your local Purdue Extension Office at 448-9041 in Clay County or 812-829-5020 in Owen County, or reach me directly at smith535@purdue.edu.

Purdue is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Aug. 5-21 -- Indiana State Fair,

* Aug. 18 -- Owen County Conservationist Class, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Owen County Library,

* Aug. 22 -- Start of the Indiana Master Naturalist Course, Clay County Extension Office, 6-9 p.m. Cost $55. Contact 448-9041 to register, and

* Sept. 10 -- Nature Day, Clay County Fairgrounds, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Presentations on snakes (at 11 a.m.) and Raptors (noon).