Orangestriped Oakworm: A Common Pest in Alabama
Orangestriped oakworms (Anisota senatoria) are native caterpillars that can cause significant damage to oak trees in Alabama, particularly in the Birmingham and Huntsville regions.
Ace Tree Services is committed to providing valuable information about orangestriped oakworms, the problems they pose to trees, and how our services can help control and prevent infestations.
What Are Orangestriped Oakworms?
Orangestriped oakworms are native caterpillars whose populations sometimes surge in the built environment. They primarily feed on oaks, with a preference for red oaks, scarlet oaks, pin oaks, and willow oaks over white oaks and chestnut oaks. These caterpillars can be found on oak trees from July to September.
The moths emerge in June and July, and females lay up to 500 eggs in clusters on the underside of oak leaves. The eggs hatch in about a week, producing tiny, greenish caterpillars that eventually grow into black worms with yellow or orange stripes running lengthwise along their bodies. These caterpillars have a prominent pair of spines or slender "horns" protruding behind their heads. As the oakworms feed, they excrete dark, dry pellets, which can rain down from infested trees.
Why Are Orangestriped Oakworms a Problem?
Defoliation is detrimental to any tree, but late-season leaf removal by oakworms is unlikely to kill a healthy tree. However, smaller trees may be completely defoliated by mid-summer and may suffer if not treated. The primary reason people choose to treat for oakworms is the abundance of frass pellets that can cover everything beneath infested trees.
How Can Ace Tree Services Help?
There are a couple of treatment options available to address orangestriped oakworm infestations:
Foliar Biological Spray: A spray specifically targeting oakworms can be beneficial for heavily infested trees to prevent total defoliation. Since this treatment targets only actively feeding caterpillars, beneficial insects are unlikely to be harmed.
Systemic Soil Application: For larger trees that cannot be sprayed, a systemic soil application can be used. This treatment takes 24-48 hours for uptake and should ideally be applied as the hatch begins.
Ace Tree Services is dedicated to helping Alabama residents in the Birmingham and Huntsville areas protect their oak trees from orangestriped oakworm infestations. By offering expert advice and effective treatment solutions, we aim to maintain the health and beauty of your landscape. Call an ISA certified arborist from Ace Tree Service at (205) 332-7757!