Fall webworm caterpillars feed on more than 100 species of deciduous trees. The first of two generations for summer is appearing now. Tiny larvae emerge from the 400 to 1,000 eggs deposited in a batch on leaves. Newly hatched caterpillars feed on surface tissue giving leaves a skeletonized appearance. They will eat and grow over the next 4 to 6 weeks, and then leave nests to pupate belowground. A second generation will occur in late summer.
Unlike the recently active eastern tent caterpillars that venture out to feed, fall webworms remain in their tents and consume the foliage they weave into its silken walls. The tent is expanded as more food is needed.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist