Web worms invade metro trees

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OKLAHOMA CITY -- If you've driven around the metro lately, you've probably noticed big webs in many of the trees. It’s a common sight this time of year. Some are wondering if we're seeing more of the web worms this year than we have in the past.

For Stephanie Savill and her family's first experience with web worms.

Though officials with the OSU Extension office say they are common this time of year, another round of them are expected to pop up in September.

Ray Ridlen, with the OSU Extension, said, “Probably their favorite trees are persimmon trees. Some of our native trees.”

Web worm/caterpillar
Web worm/caterpillar

While the web worms - which are really caterpillars - are around every year, Ridlen says this is probably the most he's seen since the late 90s.

“Back in 1997, there was a huge outbreak of them. They were everywhere,” Ridlen said.

It was that year, 1997, when NewsChannel Four's Galen Culver caught up with John Barrett, a man who had made his own device to rid his trees of the worms.

Using an aluminum pole, a chair leg, and cement nail, he made a web worm picker that was pretty effective.

As for dealing with the pests, Ridlen recommends treating the tree, specifically the limbs around where the web worms have made their home.

“As long as you spray the foliage outside of the web, then they'll increase that web, and as they do, they’ll eat that product at that time,” he said.

Stephanie has bought a chemical to take care of the webs in her trees.

The good news is Ridlen says they are not likely to cause permanent damage.

“They can foliate it, but they're not going to kill it,” he said.

We asked if all the rain this year has contributed to the problem, but experts say no. In fact, they say it's hard to predict from one year to another how big of a problem the webs will be.

Experts recommend treating your trees before September to keep the next round from invading this fall.

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