WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Abundant inchworms won't harm trees, arborists say

Posted March 27, 2012

— The noticeable increase in inchworms this spring will not have any negative impact on trees, say arborists. For the next week or two, the worms will feed on new leaves before stringing down the trees and burrowing into the ground.

The inchworms are called Fall Cankerworms, and they will move into the next phase of their lifecycle as tree leaves mature.

Raleigh Parks and Recreation does not spray city trees for insects on such a large scale, but arborists will continue to monitor the Cankerworms to make sure trees are not harmed.

Cankerworms, green inchworm What is that worm?


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  • bpancoast Apr 2, 2012

    The Fall Cankerworm has been a significant problem in Charlotte for several years. Many homeowners and the city of Charlotte have turned to banding trees in the fall in order to trap the egg laden and flightless females. One of the most popular bands is the BugBarrier Tree Band. You can learn more about the BugBarrier Tree Band at www.treebands.com

  • dboony11 Mar 30, 2012

    The fall cankerworm has four life stages, egg, caterpillar, pupa, adult. The adult male is a small brown moth and the adult female grey, with reduced wings, and unable to fly. At the first cold temperatures in the late fall (late November), the adult moths leave their cocoons in the soil. Female moths crawl up the trunks of trees or any vertical object, looking for the highest point or branches on which to lay eggs.

    FALL cankerworm tiny caterpillars emerge in the early spring when leaves just begin to open (around late February) and feed immediately. As a tree's young leaves and buds are destroyed, plants may respond with new buds and leaves. Cankerworms generally don't kill trees, but this defoliation can drain a tree of some of its energy and may make it weaker. Feeding may continue well into April and cankerworm larvae can blow or drop to an adjacent branch or tree by silk strands. The "inch worms" measure up to one inch in length and may be light green or dark green. When the cat

  • VoiceMatters Mar 29, 2012

    Hmm..To editor of story: "How long are these inchworms?" Very good question. ty in advance! :) riiigghhhtttt

  • celchuck Mar 28, 2012

    I think this was scarce in info. I was one of the few who reported the issue becausse I figured this was something that was unusual and I was unfaniliar with the species. They totally took over our carports, yard, and any area you though was safe to walk. The strings were horrific as they were invisible and we realized we had thousands squirming on our roof and stringing from end of the yard to the other. It took us 10 minutes to walk from the driveway to our home trying to dodge worms. It was absolutley horrible to brush hundreds of worms from you just walking 10 feet outside. Thankfully the last storm has seemed to lessen the worms in our yard but this season was the first time we had to cover head to toe just to mow the lawn. Our dogs are covered everytime we let them out and our cars were traps for us!!! This was absolutley out of the norm but the City gave me more information that helped me understand what they are doing. I'm hoping this was an exceptional season!!

  • sammyg Mar 28, 2012

    Poorly written story, no doubt.

  • redheadk Mar 28, 2012

    Guess I'll pick up the yellow bulb to keep all these soon to be moths out of the house :)

  • treeofliphe Mar 28, 2012

    mdoodle Ill take your response as a satire.

    If you dont know what happens after the larva stage please refer to a childrens picture book.

  • blytle Mar 28, 2012

    I felt like this story was not complete. Please explain what the next phase of their life cycle is. What happens after that? You just touched on the story.