Worm ID

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By an edhat reader

Found this worm infestation on my back porch this AM. Seem to be coming from an overhanging persimmon tree--can anyone ID?

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Mesagal Sep 13, 2021 11:17 AM
Worm ID

They are oakworm caterpillars. We are seeing them all over the place right now.

ZeroHawk Sep 13, 2021 11:36 AM
Worm ID

yes....nasty little things. They have infested the oaks along SBCC and everywhere in that part of town (my 'hood). The trail behind the tennis courts and the service road up to campus is saturated with caterpillars and their poop. You'll hear what sounds like rain falling on the leaves as you walk by...that's their poop. Yeah. We have to wear hoodies to walk through that area up to campus. This is the worst infestation i have seen since prior to the one in 2007. The infestations can last up to 2 years and if the trees are healthy, they will be ok...if they are not healthy trees, they won't survive the defoliation.

d8vanilla Sep 13, 2021 11:38 AM
Worm ID

Are those Oakworm Caterpillars, good or bad for the trees ???

Minibeast Sep 14, 2021 12:58 PM
Worm ID

D8VANILLA: https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/coast-live-oak-birds-by-lisa-hug/

a-1631562612 Sep 13, 2021 12:50 PM
Worm ID

Yes, my oak trees are being cleaned out/cut back right now and the workers have a lot of these buggers hanging on their clothing. We had a much worse breakout about 10 years ago as I recall but this may be just starting. I hope the tree work will interrupt their cycle.

Minibeast Sep 13, 2021 03:41 PM
Worm ID

Don't panic. These Oakworms have good years and bad. Sometimes there are outbreaks and then other years ----- nothing. The caterpillars don't harm humans. The trees survive. Spraying pesticides is harmful to wildlife and pets, so bear with the infestations and let the birds have a good feed.

ZeroHawk Sep 13, 2021 04:23 PM
Worm ID

Mini, the trees don't always survive. Also the birds aren't interested in the caterpillars or the moths. Why? They don't taste good...at all. I watched a swarm of sparrows evade the cloud of moths night after night and then had to consult a friend that is an avian expert. not much likes these things, small lizards may eat the worms, but more than likely not. A bird may take one or two, but that bird just learned these are nasty tasting. Not joking. The oakworm moth procedes to live by simple math. They infest and swarm and hope for the best when the worms begin to grow. Several million born, maybe 500k make it in a small region, and out of the 500k that made it to the next phase, those numbers continue to thin out as the thing changes forms. It's a numbers game, and that's how they stay here. Next year when the moths are swarming, go watch the birds get curious, then they get smart and leave.

a-1631576928 Sep 13, 2021 04:48 PM
Worm ID

I have an oak in the back yard and the Scrub Jays, Mocking Birds and other birds chow down on the moths and later the worms.

ZeroHawk Sep 14, 2021 10:47 AM
Worm ID

ok well that's good that you're seeing birds eat them, but i have noticed none of the birds around the oaks at SBCC aren't interested in them at all. they are all over that campus too...

Minibeast Sep 14, 2021 12:56 PM
Worm ID

ZEROHAWK: Please pay particular attention to the last paragraph: https://www.sonomacountygazette.com/sonoma-county-news/coast-live-oak-birds-by-lisa-hug/

Minibeast Sep 14, 2021 01:03 PM
Worm ID

ZEROHAWK: Also --------Sparrows nest between February and May. After the young have fledged, the adults aren't much interested in caterpillars or other insects. Sparrows prefer seeds, grains, some fruit and even dried insects. They will eat veggies, but only if the other foods aren't readily available to them.

a-1631573034 Sep 13, 2021 03:43 PM
Worm ID

Oakworms are good for the trees and the ecosystem. It is all about the nitrogen cycle.

sfgac055 Sep 13, 2021 04:59 PM
Worm ID

We had a terrible oak moth worm infestation where I work this year, twice. I understand they’re not harmful but the volume of them was incredible. You couldn’t walk outside without getting them all over your clothes & in your hair.

Lew Riffle Sep 14, 2021 07:28 AM
Worm ID

Oak Moths . Started up in the Montecito Area last year and seems to be working west evidently now on the Mesa. Birds will eat the moth adults but the caterpillars are bad tasting with all the tannin they ingest from the oaks.

a-1631632549 Sep 14, 2021 08:15 AM
Worm ID

Don't spray... if an overspray of bT gets onto flowers that butterflies use, it will kill them and their offspring.

Eggs Ackley Sep 15, 2021 06:11 PM
Worm ID

They are Caterpillars/Pupae not worms. Leaves fall decompose slowly, caterpillars expedite and enhance the process. Provide Free manure/ fertilizer. Nature cycling, bet the N content is 5% or better. Less leaf area =less respiration during the hottest driest most stressful time of year. Probably a net positive overall . http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7422.html
Oak Titmouse, Bushtit, and Bewick Wren are predators.

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