How to Get Rid of Webworms: Effective Methods for a Pest-Free Garden

Webworms can be a nuisance for many homeowners and gardeners because of their unsightly webs and potential damage to trees.

Knowing how to effectively get rid of these pests is essential for maintaining the beauty and health of your outdoor space.

Fall webworms are commonly found in deciduous trees, where they build their webbed nests to protect themselves while feeding and growing.

How to Get Rid of Webworms
Fall Webworms

Although their activity might appear harmful at first glance, it’s important to note that they typically don’t cause significant damage to healthy trees.

There are various methods to manage and eliminate webworms, including both chemical and nonchemical approaches.

For those concerned about the appearance of their trees, simply pulling the web off by hand and placing it in a bucket of soapy water can be an effective solution.

Alternatively, contact insecticide sprays containing active ingredients like permethrin or carbaryl can also be used to treat infested trees.

When deciding on a treatment method, it’s crucial to keep in mind the specific type of tree affected and the extent of the infestation.

For example, if using sprays on pecan trees, ensure that the product is safe for food crops.

With the right approach, you can successfully eliminate webworms and restore the beauty and health of your trees.

Identifying Webworms and Their Damage

Appearance and Life Cycle

Webworms are caterpillars that create web-like nests on trees and bushes. They are typically small, fuzzy, and pale yellow in color.

The life cycle of these pests involves four stages: eggs, larvae (caterpillars), pupae, and adult moths.

They lay eggs on the undersides of leaves, which hatch into caterpillars in spring.

Some species have multiple generations in a year, such as sod webworms, which can have up to three generations per year.

Adult Fall Webworm Moth

Types of Webworms

There are two main types of webworms:

  • Fall webworms: They feed on a variety of tree species like elm, pecan, oak, cottonwood, and apple trees. Fall webworms create large, conspicuous white-webbed nests during late summer and autumn.
  • Sod webworms: These caterpillars primarily cause damage to lawns. Sod webworm larvae are nocturnal and feed on grass, making them difficult to spot. The adult stage of sod webworms is a moth known as lawn moths.
 Fall WebwormsSod Webworms
HabitatDeciduous trees (e.g., elm, cottonwood, oak)Lawns
ColorPale yellowGrayish brown with green stripes
Time of ActivityLate summer to fallSpring to fall
AffectTree foliageGrasses

Damage to Trees and Lawn

Webworms can cause various types of damage depending on the species:

Trees: Fall webworms create webbed nests on tree branches and feed on the leaves within the nest.

Although they can defoliate branches, they usually do not harm the tree, as the leaves they consume were about to fall anyway.

Lawns: Damage from sod webworms appears as small, brown patches of closely clipped grass, often leading to large irregular dead areas.

This damage might sometimes be confused with grass diseases or other pests like white grubs.

How to Get Rid of Webworms: Prevention and Control Methods

Cultural and Mechanical Control Methods

  • Pruning: Regularly prune branches with visible webs to reduce the area where webworms can feed and grow.
  • Water management: Maintain proper watering practices to minimize lawn damage caused by sod webworms.

Pruning and water management can help prevent severe infestations and keep your trees and lawn healthy.

Fall Webworms

Biological Control Methods

  • Beneficial insects: Encourage predators like birds and parasitic wasps to your garden, as they can help control webworm populations.
  • Nematodes: Introduce entomopathogenic nematodes to your lawn as a natural way to reduce sod webworm larvae.

These natural control methods are eco-friendly alternatives to chemical solutions and help maintain a balanced garden ecosystem.

Chemical Control Methods

MethodProsCons
Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)Organic and safe for beneficial insectsMay require several applications
InsecticidesEffective against various webworm speciesCan be harmful to non-target organisms and the environment
Soapy waterDIY home remedy for small infestationsNot as effective on large infestations

Always follow product instructions and be cautious when using chemical control methods, ensuring the safety of both people and the environment.

Conclusion

In conclusion, while webworms typically do not cause substantial damage to healthy trees, understanding their control methods is essential.

Fall webworms tend to eat leaves that are about to fall, so removing them from your garden is not very important.

However, if you wish to remove them, techniques range from manual removal to chemical and natural approaches.

Pruning and water management help prevent severe infestations while introducing beneficial insects and nematodes ensures a balanced garden ecosystem.

Chemical methods, including Bacillus thuringiensis and insecticides, provide alternatives, but care must be taken to protect non-target organisms and the environment.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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