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Webworms are on the rise this summer

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Posted at 4:49 PM, Jul 05, 2024

ST. MARTIN PARISH — If you live in Southwest Louisiana you’re no stranger to the fluffy critters that seem to fall out of the sky, - the webworm. And this year their numbers are on the rise.

For many, the seasonal webworms are a nuisance.

“Man, I hate them worms man I hate them worms,” said a resident who goes by the name of Jack, who’s had quite a few encounters with the insect.

“I got a lot of caterpillars under my carport,” Jack said.

“One time there was one on my shirt, I flicked it off and it landed on my cousin Jimbo. He was definitely scared of worms too.”

According to Urban Entomologist and Assistant Professor with the LSU AgCenter Ph.D. Aaron Ashbrook, reports show the worms arrived earlier this year and in larger numbers.

He said this is due to a decrease in the webworm's predators from last summer's drought.

In just a year the webworms have four to five generations. The species range from a white color to dark gray and can feed off of the leaves of more than 400 tree species as well as some woody shrubs.

While they don't sting, or harm people he said they weave silk webs in trees for about a month.

He recommends using pesticides less harmful to insects to protect fruit and nut trees, that could be damaged by defoliation.

Cameron Landry said he's noticed the webworms more this year.

“They fall out the trees on me whenever, yup,” Landry said.

“I usually hunt a lot and I see them all over the place and I feel like there have been more than lately, a lot more caterpillars lately.”

The webworms eventually break out of their cocoon, turning into moths with a life expectancy of about a year.