Recognizing oakworms, webworms

Published 3:57 pm Sunday, September 10, 2017

You may have seen the web sacks of the fall webworms overhanging our roads in the county. They like to defoliate the leaves within the sacks. There is another invader that also like to defoliate oak trees. You usually don’t notice them until there is an appreciable leaf loss. The common name of these noxious pest is the oakworm. There are different variations of the oakworm, black with yellow striped, orange striped or orange-tipped.

They usually make their appearance in late August through October and this year they’re here in August. Oakworms overwinter as a pupa in the soil and emerge in mid-summer as a reddish-brown moth whose only job is to deposit egg clusters on the underside of oak leaves, their preferred hosts.

The adult moth does not feed. Reproduction is their only lot in life. The male adult moths track their mate through pheromones released by the female moth.

They start out small and get as large as 1.5 to 2.0 inches in length. They’re like teenagers, you spot them in groups. They defoliate one branch and move on to another. You may spot a large one in the grass looking for a spot to pupate. Usually they produce only one generation in a year.

They are reported to be a serious defoliator of trees. We are at the southern end of its range. They start out yellow to yellow green in color and by the third and fourth stages they turn their distinctive color.

Even if the defoliated is not severe, oakworms leave their calling cards on walk ways, pool decks and picnic tables located under the canopy of a tree.

A large older tree can survive a severe defoliation one year but not over a series of years. On a smaller, younger tree, controlling the insects is important. There are several insecticides that will control them. Spray at dusk as to not kill any bees or other pollinators. If the branches are low enough, you can remove the yellow egg clusters by hand.

What’s going on in Extension?

Aug. 31: Lunch-N-Learn at the LaGrange Library; noon to 1 p.m. “Plant Diagnostics: Common Pests of Ornamental Plants”

Sept. 5: Lunch-N-Learn at the LaGrange Library; noon to 1 p.m. IPM: “All You Need to Know About Houseplants”

Sept. 7: Lunch-N-Learn at the LaGrange Library; noon to 1 p.m. “Plant Diagnostics: Common Diseases of Ornamental Plants”

Sept. 12: “Hunting Leases: All you want to know about hunting leases”;  Guest speaker: Mark McConnell, UGA Wildlife Specialist 7 p.m. at the Ag Center

Sept. 14: Lunch-N-Learn at the LaGrange Library; noon to 1 p.m. Plant Diagnostics: Common Pests of Trees”

Sept. 18: Troup County Association of Beekeepers; 7 p.m. at the Ag Center

Sept. 21: Lunch-N-Learn at the LaGrange Library; noon to 1 p.m. Plant Diagnostics: Common Diseases of Trees”

Sept. 19: Troup County Cattleman’s Association: “Forage Production” Kim Mullinix, Auburn University Forage Specialist; Dinner at 7 p.m. $6 call for reservations 706-443-7693 Program starts at 7:30 p.m. at the Ag Center.

October 3rd: “Controlling Nuisance Wildlife” UGA Wildlife Specialist Mike Menjak; 7 PM at the Ag Center

Oct. 14: 61st Annual Harvest Sale: Tractor Supply, 8 a.m. to noon. Call the office for vendor reservations.

If you have any questions or concerns, stop by or call the office.

Brian Maddy is the ANR Agent for Troup County Extension. The Troup County Extension office is located at 144 Sam Walker Drive, LaGrange. 30240 (706) 883-1675. Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m.