Friday, June 15, 2012

Fall webworm right on schedule

     This year, pecan trees broke bud nearly 3 weeks early. First-summer-generation pecan nut casebearer came as least 2 weeks earlier than normal. So what should we expect when it comes to summer-foliage feeding caterpillars? The answer came today when I found my first fall webworm egg mass (photo at above).
    Mid-June is the normal time period for the very first webworm egg masses to be spotted. It seems fall webworm moths didn't get the memo that bud break was early in 2012.
    Fall webworm egg masses are easy to identify by the white "fluff" scattered over the top of the egg cluster. This "fluff" is actually moth scales that the female scrapes off her body in an effort to disguise the eggs to avoid attacks by egg parasites.

    By early July you should see webworm colonies in their dirty white webs (photo at left). Fall webworm has two generations per year in our area. A second generation appears in late August.
    Depending on the number of colonies we see per acre, we can control this pest with a wide range of insecticides. Currently, the action threshold for fall webworm is 5 colonies per acre. Make sure to scout your orchard carefully to spot the colonies when they are still small (the size of your fist). Young larvae are much easier to control than larvae nearing the end of their life cycle.