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What Is That Webby Stuff on Austin Trees?
Fall webworms don't typically do permanent damage but they may further stress already drought-stressed trees.

It’s not yet autumn but fall webworms are showing up on trees across Central Texas.

The caterpillars form webbing on leaves – and spend much of their lives eating those leaves.

"Typically people notice they have fall webworms when they start to see the webbing actually starting to cover the tips of the branches and, if they look closely at those webs or they break open those webs, they'll actually see the caterpillars inside," Wizzie Brown says.

Brown studies insects at the Texas Agri-Life Extension office. She says the impact of the fall webworms could be worse this year.

“The eating of the foliage usually doesn’t damage the trees but since we can be in drought conditions in this part of the world right now, it can cause more stress to the tree," Brown says.

While Brown says you can use pesticide to get rid of the webworms – she says knocking the webbing down with a stick is also effective.

So why are we seeing these so-called fall webworms now?

"They're called fall webworms because the fall generation is typically the most damaging," Brown says. "But all of them will create the webbing. Basically what happens is when they hatch out of the egg, they start to spin the web, they encompass the foliage that they want to eat and when they run out of food to eat they'll make the web bigger. So the webs do tend to grow larger as the season goes on."

Brown says the fall webworms are especially common in pecan trees.

Laura first joined the KUT team in April 2012. She now works for the statewide program Texas Standard as a reporter and producer. Laura came to KUT from the world of television news. She has worn many different hats as an anchor, reporter and producer at TV stations in Austin, Amarillo and Toledo, OH. Laura is a proud graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, a triathlete and enjoys travel, film and a good beer. She enjoys spending time with her husband and pets.
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