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                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified
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Genista Caterpillar      WORMS OR CATERPILLARS



Caterpillars have chewing mouthparts. Adults have siphoning mouths. Caterpillars will feed on the tender part of the leaves.



Pest Status, Damage: Caterpillars produce loose webbing around leaves and branches in which they feed on leaves; produce unsightly "nests" and cause loss of leaves and some plant stress; hairs on larvae may cause skin irritation.


      The Pyralid moth -  Adult     

A web-producing caterpillar is the genista caterpillar, Uresiphita (=Tholeria) reversalis (Guenee) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), commonly found on Texas mountain laurel. Caterpillars of this and other web-producing species are less hairy and lack the double row of black dots on the top of each body segment characteristic of the fall webworm.

Genista Caterpillar

The most pervasive insect we see in Central Texas in the spring is the WORM.
Some call them caterpillars, and the worms will come to Central Texas.  Guaranteed !.
Worms love the tasty new growth on these particular plants, so damage first appears on the bright green new shoots every spring.  If you let the worms live too long, you'll start to see webs in your plants.  Once you see the webs it is harder to get rid of the pest, so start early if you can.  Preventative maintenance is best


Caterpillars grow up to 1 ║ inches in length, they are green to orange with black and white hairs. Caterpillars are less hairy compared with fall webworms and lack the double row of black dots on the top of each body segment.

A web producing caterpillar that attacks Texas laurel, crape myrtle, honeysuckle, and Laburnum. Larvae defoliate as well as spin webs.

Life cycle: Two generations a year in the south. Eggs are laid in overlapping clusters on the undersides of leaves. They pupate in thin white cocoons attached to buildings as well as vegetation.   

Control: The best way to treat your plants for worms is with Bacillus Thuringiensis or Bt. ( a biological control agent that only targets and kills the pest ).  Also known in garden centers under the brand name Thuricide, Cry-Maxx or Despel. It is an organic product, though use standard application precautions just to be safe.  It targets kills caterpillars (worms) and not most beneficial insects. 

 How Bt. works:  The Bt. disrupts the insects' digestive systems and they starve. Bt. is specific to certain pest insects, can be used with nematodes, and is completely environmentally safe. It will not harm birds or aninals. Crops can be harvested the day after any Bt. variety is applied.

Mountain Lauarel in Blossom (Sophora secundiflora) The key is to not over fertilize plants in an attempt to speed growth. Severe infestations may be the result of your good intentions. 




Keep alive the wildlife you have:  Few people are aware that chemicals from home lawns are one of the primary reasons for water quality impairment of downstream rivers and lakes, and of course your backyard pond.  Even synthetic fertilizers cause harm, since they result in excessive vegetation in streams and lakes, where dissolved oxygen then drops in the night-time hours, causing the death of aquatic organisms and fish. It is important to minimize use of pesticides and herbicides, as these chemicals will harm the wildlife you are trying to attract.  Pesticides are estimated to kill far more than 50 million birds per year.  Wildlife passing through a chemically treated yard not only absorb chemicals directly, but they ingest the chemicals by eating poisoned plants and insects, and then may retreat to a secluded area to die.  Granular pesticides are particularly dangerous to birds, who mistakenly ingest the granules thinking they are food or small rocks that aid in digestion.  Even 3-5 granules of diazinon will kill a bird.  Pesticides and herbicides also mix with rainwater or are carried with particles down to streams and lakes, where countless aquatic organisms are killed.  One U.S. study found that even if only 4% of homes used diazinon at the recommended rate of application, the level of the chemical found in the stream collecting the rainwater from the neighborhood exceeded the concentration known to be lethal to aquatic organisms.  Sale of diazinon for home lawn use will be prohibited by the EPA after Dec 31, 2003.  You can help to save wildlife now by not using outdoor pesticides, and buying organic food will make you feel good by knowing pesticides weren't used to make your food, saving the lives of many creatures.  


Humans often feel the desire to help plants that are being attacked by insects, but relationships between plants, insects, and other wildlife have been established over millions of years.  Humans often do more harm than good, although our intentions may be good.  Simply waiting a few weeks and giving time for beneficial insects and birds to find their food source is often all that is needed.  Caterpillars and other insects that feed on leaves will make plants look less than perfect in our eyes, but allowing nature to exist with minimal human intervention can lead to wonderful things, such as the butterflies and moths that caterpillars will become.  Birds will also come to your yard to gather caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other insects to feed their young babies.  If you have a plant that cannot survive without pesticides, it is probably in the wrong location and you can just let it die and replace it with an appropriate native plant better suited to the conditions of that location.

Contact: cell: 830.257.8871
                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified

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