Fall webworm nests on trees in the Cowichan Valley are becoming increasingly common recently. (File photo)

Fall webworm nests hit the Cowichan Valley — no, they’re not tent caterpillars

Species nests in the late summer, early fall

The webbed nests that are increasingly seen on trees in the Cowichan Valley recently are likely the result of a moth species called the fall webworm, not tent caterpillars.

Provincial forest health officer Tim Ebata said the fall webworm’s nests resemble the more familiar nests from tent caterpillars that are common in the area during some spring seasons, but, as the name suggests, the fall webworm makes nests in the late summer and early fall.

“It’s more of a nuisance than anything, and not a big deal,” Ebata said.

“They flair up occasionally if the conditions are right, but it rarely takes over a whole tree and is not usually a serious killer of the trees where the nests are made.”

The fall webworm is a moth in the family Erebidae known principally for its larval stage, which creates the characteristic webbed nests on the tree limbs of a wide variety of hardwoods in the late summer and fall.

The moth is native to North America, ranging from Canada to Mexico.

The species acts similarly to the tent caterpillar, but the fall webworm constructs its nest over the end of the branch rather than where limbs meet.

The large, conspicuous webs typically contain caterpillars, dead partially eaten leaves, and fecal droppings.

Bernie Dinter, owner of Duncan’s Dinter Nursery, said he has seen the tell-tale signs of caterpillar-nest infestations on a number of alder trees near the nursery, but assumed it was tent caterpillars.

“Tent caterpillars usually show up in five to seven year cycles, so we’re about due now,” Dinter said.

“The defoliation from these nests can weaken the tree but, in this case, it’s late in the season and the leaves will start falling anyway in a few weeks, so I expect it will have a lot less impact than if the nests were formed in the spring.”

Ebata said if people are concerned about fall webworm nests in their trees, they can be snipped off and burned.

But Ebata suggested that, with fire bans still in place in the Valley, the best solution right now would be to simply crush the nest once it is snipped from the tree.

“You don’t want to touch the caterpillars as they can be irritating to the skin,” he said.

“The insects are usually in the nest during the evenings. If you take one down and find no caterpillars, they have likely moved on to pupate to become moths.”

Just Posted

Concerns raised over Qualicum Beach growth containment boundary at hearing

Town of Qualicum Beach’s requested change doesn’t seek to change growth plan: town planner

Lincoln stolen from Parksville dealership found near Duncan

Vehicle was located three days later with minor damage

Nature unites everyone: artist showing in Parksville

Kimberly Miller’s watercolour exhibit running Jan. 15-Feb.24

Learn to run with Oceanside Running Club

Clinic prepares runners for annual Mother’s Day Run

Ballenas student experiment going into space

Science experiment designed by five SD69 students will travel to International Space Station

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of B.C. overpass

Dash cam footage shows vehicle speeding across Brunette Avenue overpass in Coquitlam

Port Alberni RCMP officers bear-sprayed by suspect

Police were responding at scene of traffic accident

First Parksville baby of 2019 born in Nanaimo hospital

Maverick Maurice Lapierre was five pounds, 11 ounces

Second fatal crash occurs in Alberni Valley

Traffic on Highway 4 is being re-routed as investigators are en route

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Most Read