(WJW) – Just in time for the spooky season, you may be noticing more and more webs on Ohio trees.
No, these don’t belong to any giant spiders.
The large webs are the work of fall webworms. Maybe even the work of a couple of generations of fall webworms.
These nests of fall webworms are often incorrectly attributed to tent caterpillars, bagworms, or spongy moths, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The nests can span two to three feet — or even bigger.
Thankfully, the fall webworm and their webs are “mostly harmless,” according to the experts.
“Fall webworm nests usually become apparent in late summer and early fall,” said ODNR Division of Forestry, Forest Health Program Manager Tom Macy in a press release. “They feed on more than 400 species of trees and shrubs but are frequently found on black walnut, black cherry, and hickories. Though they commonly defoliate one or a few branches and can occasionally have outbreaks that result in the defoliation of entire trees, they do not directly cause tree death.”
According to the ODNR, fall webworms, while in their caterpillar stage, can be up to an inch and a half in length and are generally pale yellow to gray in color with small dark spots and light-colored hairs. As adult moths, they are generally white with a wingspan of about an inch and a half.
Their silk nests can remain into the winter, and as experts explain, the moth’s eggs are often laid on or near the nests from which they originally came. The second generation of caterpillars then expands the nests that were constructed by the first generation of caterpillars.
Experts say, control measures for fall webworms are usually not needed and that the insects have many natural predators.