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They're back: Webworms settling into Middle Georgia's trees

Unless it's a bad infestation or the tree is already unhealthy, webworms are harmless to plants/Matt Mackie (WGXA)

MACON, Ga. -- Webworms have made a comeback to Middle Georgia, and some in the community said they've never seen them so bad.

"This year, it's just eaten the whole tree," said Merle Smith.

Even Smith's tried and true techniques haven't kept the webworms away this year.

"I thought I had got them out. I cut the limbs out of the tree, it was down low and I could reach. But it got up so I couldn't reach and I had to just let them take over. Nothing else I could do with it," Smith said.

Entomologist Dr. Bruce Snyder with Georgia College explained what webworms are all about. It turns out - they're not worms at all, but caterpillars just getting ready for winter by taking over midstate trees.

"You can see pretty well, at least within this webbing, that they've essentially eaten all of the leaves," said Snyder.

By spring they'll become moths, and the good news for Middle Georgians is that they're not harmful.

"They're concerned about things falling on them or concerned that the caterpillars are going to hurt them. The caterpillars are harmless. They're fuzzy, and a lot of fuzzy things can sting you, but not these," Snyder said.

In most cases, webworms don't kill trees either - unless it's a particularly bad infestation or the tree itself is already unhealthy.

Snyder also said there's an easy fix for anyone who has a problem with the worms.

"You can use insecticides. Most general, broad spectrum insecticides will kill them. You can apply it directly to that web, you don't need to spray anything else to affect them," he said.

Snyder cautioned against burning the webs to get rid of them.

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