Fall brings cooler weather pretty leaves and those horrible webs that seem to cover the trees and deter from the pretty leaves.
Commonly referred to as bagworms or webworms. Hyphantria cunea are the type of webworms that make their appearance during late summer and autumn.
The Good News
The good news is these little guys don’t generally hurt the trees, and are just more of an aesthetic problem. Webworms only munch on the leaves of the tree, which is already about to go dormant for the winter and shed it’s leaves anyway.
The Bad News
The bad news is that webworms range from south Canada across the U.S. and love just about every kind of hardwood tree. Hickory, oak, pecan, even redbud and some fruit trees. The list goes on encompassing almost all deciduous trees.
More than likely before the worm or adult moth is spotted we will notice the nest. Nests are composed of spider like string thread that is woven together with twigs, leaf debris and excrement from the worms. They gradually become larger and encompass more leaves, the larger nests can reach up to 3 feet.
The adult moth is most commonly white with darker spots on the wings.
Caterpillars can grow up to 1 inch long and colors vary by climate and location. Most caterpillars have a yellow to green colored body with a mottled strip or two running running along the length of them. Their heads can range in color from black to a reddish hue.
The eggs are laid on the underside of leaves. Clutches contain a couple hundred eggs that hatch out in about a week. Young caterpillars build their own webs while they feed on leaves. This stage will last about a month and a half. As winter comes closer the grown caterpillar weaves a dark brown cocoon about ⅜ of an inch long either in leaf debris or under some loose bark. It will survive the winter in its pupa form.
More often than not little is done to control these pests. Expert opinion is that they cause little damage to trees, that are preparing to shed their leaves and go dormant for the winter. So why not let them be.
Tree safety aside making your home in a tall tree and out of reach keeps most humans from braving the awkward scenario of removing them. But what if some of us do want to remove them from interrupting our fall leaf experience.
- Natural Enemies. Webworms have a lot of them. Including birds, if you can reach a web cut it open to give birds easy access.
- Make Your Yard More Bird Friendly. Adding bird feeders, houses and baths will help you attract mother nature’s first line of defense.
- Keep Trees Pruned. Pruning dead branches will help deter them especially if you use pest spray afterwards
- Keep Debris Picked UP. Leaf and other fall debris provide hiding places for insects, and prevent natural predators from getting an opening.
- Sevin Dust or other farm powder can be used as soon as you notice a problem and repeat 10-14 days later. The construction on the web makes nests water resistant and prevents most sprays from penetrating.
- Let Them Be.
It’s officially September and the weather is getting cooler. The time for bonfires and fall decor are here. Mums a fall flower favorite are beginning to pop up in stores, as a reminder.
I love mums, especially the gorgeous maroons ones. Unfortunately we are great at killing this gorgeous perennial after only a few months. I think we have bought them for like the past four consecutive years, so it’s rather sad because we have pretty green thumbs in our household. Last year we left them in pots and brought them inside with the other house plants for the winter. We planned on planting them the following spring. They did great until about February when the cat cat knocked them over. Being hard headed we plan to try again this year.
Chrysanthemum are a hardy perennial that grow in zones 5-9. They come in a variety of shapes and just about any color you could want from white to dark red.
They are a native plant to Asia and northeastern Europe, although most species originated from east Asia. In 1796 General John Stevens imported the first cultivated species called ‘Dark Purple’ from England to America.
- Mums need a minimum of 6 hours of light per day
- Well drained soil
- 1” of water per week after they have been established
- Water anytime they begin to wilt or bottom leaves shrivel and brown
- Do NOT soak the foliage as it may cause disease
- Pinch off dead flower heads to encourage new growth
Tricks for Winter Survival
- Plant your Mums earlier in the year, this will allow their delicate thin roots time to grow and establish.
- Plant 1” deeper than the nursery pot that they came in.
- After the first hard frost mulch your Mums thoroughly being sure to get between all of the branches.
- It may not hurt to cut the plant back to almost ground level after frost if you want before mulching although leaving old growth till spring can better survival rate.
Keeping Mums Indoors
- Keep them near a window that receives bright but indirect light all day.
- Temperature should be kept between 70-75 degrees fahrenheit.
- Water when the top 1” of soil becomes dry, a moisture gauge may come in handy.
- When Spring comes your indoor Mums should begin to produce new flowers, this is the time to repot with new soil and fertilize to keep the plant happy and producing gorgeous blooms.
What We are Going to Try this Year
I can’t wait to try my luck with Mums again this year. I think we may try to plant some in the next week. If it doesn’t work this year we will try again in Spring. But I think I will try cutting the end off of an old bottle to fill with water so that our new plants receive more of it while they are establishing roots.
Remember to keep pinching the dead flowers heads off so that new ones will grow and the plant looks better, along with not being weighed down by the bad heads.
Mulching is something I will not forget to do this year and I will probably cut my plants down to within an inch of the ground before I mulch them.
We wish you great luck with your Mums if you decide to purchase some this year. It seems such a shame to keep buying perrinelas every year when they should come back on their own.