Oak trees can be found across the world, spreading their wide branches to provide shade, a climbing foundation and in the fall, a generous number of acorns. These beautiful trees can be attacked and defoliated by the smallest of creatures, though. One such creature is the caterpillar known as the webworm. Webworms build webs at the ends of oak tree boughs before they drop off to become moths. These webs contain their eggs and can become large and unsightly, with dead leaves and egg sacs hanging off the tree. Both larvae and grown caterpillars actively feed on oak leaves. To get rid of these pests organically, follow a couple easy steps.
Things You'll Need
- Beneficial wasps
- Bird feeder
- BT spray
- Neem oil spray
When you see webworm nests and webs, use a rake or broom to knock them out of the tree and destroy them. These webs hold future or newborn caterpillars, so you're destroying future generations of the pests.
Encourage natural predators of webworms. Plant sunflowers to attract beneficial wasps, and hang bird feeders to attract birds to the area. Beneficial wasps can also be purchased at your local garden supply shop. Both of these predators feed on the caterpillars, and will quickly reduce the population.
Spray for webworms. Use BT spray, which infects caterpillars and kills them. BT will not harm plants or other animals like many pesticides, but it may reduce your butterfly population by attacking their caterpillars as well. You can also spray with neem oil, which is another organic insecticide.
Tips & Warnings
- Webworm webs usually appear in late summer.
- Webworms cannot actually kill a live oak tree. They will defoliate it, and their webs are unsightly.
- Pesticide use can kill beneficial insects and may poison animals in the area.
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