How to Get Rid of Webspinners: Easy and Effective Methods

How to Get Rid of Webspinners: Effective & Easy Methods

Webspinners, also known as embiopterans, are small insects that create silk webs in protected areas such as tree bark and crevices. These tiny creatures may seem harmless at first glance, but their webbing can become unsightly and cause damage to plants, especially in gardens and greenhouses.

To effectively remove webspinners from your property, it is essential to combine multiple strategies targeting their habitat and ability to reproduce. Understanding their life cycle and behavior will come in handy as you work towards a webspinner-free environment.

Some methods to consider include regular inspections, clearing away leaf litter, and using natural predators such as birds and spiders to help keep the webspinner population under control. By using a well-rounded approach, you’ll be on your way to eliminating these web-spinning insects.

Understanding Webspinners

Webspinner Species and Identification

Webspinners are small, inconspicuous insects belonging to the order Embioptera. There are around 400 known species distributed across the world, with varying colors ranging from dark brown to pale yellow. Adult males and females exhibit distinct features:

  • Males: large, winged, with strong legs
  • Females: smaller, wingless, with thread-like antennae

For example, Antipaluria urichi is a species native to Trinidad, while Oligotoma nigra inhabits Asia.

Habitat and Behavior

Webspinners prefer moist and dark habitats, like leaf litter, under stones, or in tree bark crevices. They are nocturnal creatures and feed on algae, lichen, and other organic matter. They create tunnels using their silk glands, which helps them navigate their environment and protect themselves from predators.

Life Cycle and Biology

The life cycle of a webspinner consists of three stages: egg, larva, and adult. After mating, the female lays her eggs within her tunnel, where she provides care and protection to her offspring. Webspinner larvae are similar to adults in appearance, but smaller.

The larvae undergo a variable number of molts before reaching adulthood. Males and females show different behaviors during their life cycle:

  • Males: tend to disperse in search of mates, have a shorter life span
  • Females: focus on maintaining their tunnels and caring for their young, live longer

Silk Glands and Tunnels

Webspinners are unique due to their silk-producing glands, located in their forelegs. Both males and females can produce silk, which is used to construct tunnels. These tunnels benefit the webspinners by:

  • Providing shelter from predators
  • Facilitating easier movement within their habitat
  • Offering an ideal living environment for feeding and reproduction

Impacts of Webspinners

Ecological Threats

Webspinners, specifically the Oligotoma nigra from the Embioptera order, pose ecological threats in certain environments. For instance, they can become pests in the agricultural sector1. These creatures typically thrive in dark, tropical, and urban areas in the United States, especially the Southwest2.

Nuisance to Humans

Webspinners can be a nuisance to humans due to their webs and presence in homes. These pests have red bodies and wings but are not known to bite3. The life cycle of webspinners involves several stages, making it challenging to control their population in infested areas4.

  • Webs: Webspinners are web-spinning pests that create silk structures for protection and mobility5.
  • Pest issues: They can cause damage to cultivated plants, impacting agricultural production6.

Comparison of webspinner ecological threats and nuisances to humans

Issue Ecological Threats Nuisance to Humans
Location Agricultural areas Homes
Physical features Red body, wings Red body, wings
Damage Plant life Webs
Bites No No

Though webspinners can be troublesome pests, they help control other problematic insect populations. However, their potential harm to agriculture and their bothersome presence in homes make it important to manage and minimize their impact.

Recognizing Webspinner Infestations

Signs in the Home and Yard

Webspinners are small insects that can infest your home and garden. They prefer damp places, such as moist leaf litter and around date palms. Keep an eye out for:

  • Pests: Look for small, elongated insects with a cylindrical abdomen.
  • Garden: Check for damaged plants and leaves, as webspinners can feed on them.
  • Moisture: Investigate damp areas where webspinners may congregate.

Common Places for Webspinners

Webspinners tend to hide in different areas of your home and yard. These are some common locations:

  • Damp places: Under rocks or logs, in damp soil, or in leaf litter.
  • Date palms: Webspinners can be found in the fronds of these fruit-bearing trees.
  • Yard: They may also invade garden beds and plant pots.

It helps to know where to check for these pests, so you can stay proactive in preventing infestations.

Location Webspinner Habitats
Damp places Under rocks, logs, damp soil
Date palms Fronds of the trees
Yard Garden beds, plant pots

Knowing the signs and common places for webspinners will help you identify and address infestations quickly. Keeping your environment clean and free of excess moisture should make it less inviting for these pests.

Effective Webspinner Control Methods

Preventing Webspinner Entry

One way to control webspinners is by preventing their entry into your home. Make sure to:

  • Seal cracks and gaps around doors and windows
  • Repair damaged screens
  • Install weather stripping on doors
  • Regularly clean window sills and tracks

Traps and Pest Control Options

There are various traps and pest control options available, including:

  • Sticky traps: Effective in capturing webspinners and other small insects
  • Residual insecticides: Can be applied to areas where webspinners are commonly found
  • Diatomaceous earth: A natural powder that dehydrates insects upon contact

Pros:

  • Traps and insecticides provide quick results
  • Many options to choose from based on personal preference

Cons:

  • Some chemicals may be harmful to humans or pets
  • Insecticides may not be effective against all species of webspinners

Natural Predators and Safe Solutions

Consider introducing natural predators into your garden, such as:

  • Spiders: Known to prey on webspinners and other small insects
  • Beetles: Various species can help control webspinner populations
  • Termites: May also feed on webspinners

For safer, non-toxic solutions, try using:

  • Vinegar: Mix equal parts water and vinegar, spray on webspinner-infested areas
  • Vacuum cleaner: Suck up webspinners and their silk tunnels

Comparison Table

Control Method Effectiveness Safety Ease of Use
Traps High Medium Easy
Pest Control Options High Low Moderate
Natural Predators Moderate High Moderate
Safe Solutions Moderate High Easy

Note: Before using any control methods or introducing predators, consult with local experts or do thorough research to ensure the safety of your pets and the environment.

Footnotes

  1. https://extension.usu.edu/pests/uppdl/files/factsheet/web-spinning-spider-mite97.pdf
  2. https://today.tamu.edu/2021/06/09/how-to-win-the-fight-against-stickers/
  3. https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/51837-Oligotoma-nigra
  4. https://ento.psu.edu/extension/factsheets/embiopterans
  5. https://tidcf.nrcan.gc.ca/en/insects/factsheet/10268
  6. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-21400-2

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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.

7 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Webspinners: Easy and Effective Methods”

  1. We found a wingless bug in our bathtub that really looks like one of these. The problem is, we live in Washington. The range maps I find show these in California, but not further north. Are there records of ones in Washington? Is there something that lives here that’s similar? It looks like an earwig, but the tail is wrong.

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  2. Ah! Thanks for posting this. I also live in Tucson and had taken to calling all of these insects “Fred” (one stayed around for a while so I gave it a name). Nice to have the actual name, but I think I’ll still call them Freds. I agree that they are cute. Something about them reminds me of dogs. The attraction to light explains why they kept hanging around the computer monitor and made for adorable Internet buddies 🙂

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  3. I live in Lake Havasu City Az and it took me over a year to identify them..I googled “cute little bug that flies and turn it’s head to look.. They hang on around my computer and keep me company when i work.. i also have a lot or earwigs which are equally endearing.. they remind me of those self propelled robot vacuum cleaners,, going one way running into something and the going another direction.. always confused.. I have two great pictured.. one of an earwig and roach sharing a piece of food and the other of an earwig devouring a cricket if you would like them

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