No, not earthworms. Web worms. And their cousins; other leaf-eating worms that don’t web up but can strip a tree in a week.
We have a tree in our back yard that’s called a Live Oak. No, that’s not as opposed to a dead Oak. These trees are related to the oak in that they make acorns, but their leaves are small and dark green, and stay on the tree all year long. Even when it freezes.
It’s like having a deciduous evergreen.
They grow maybe twice as tall as a house, and provide dense shade. During a South Texas summer, dense shade is very nice. They require little maintenance, and don’t make a mess in the yard.
So, what’s the downside? Well, every year in late October to mid November, they attract a crop of these nasty worms that eat their leaves.
The first time we noticed this was when the tree was small. I glanced into the back yard one day and commented that our tree was dying, since about half of the limbs and branches were bare. Carol hadn’t noticed, so we went out to look at it. The darn thing was literally crawling with worms!
The worms would drop off to the ground and then climb back up. There were worm droppings all over the ground under the tree.
I went to Lowes, bought a bottle of Malathion, and sprayed the heck out of the tree. The next day the worms were all dead and the tree slowly began to put leaves back on. That act has become an annual ritual in the fall.
Guess why I’m telling you all this. Give up? Yep, THEY’RE BA-A-A-CK!
So this afternoon, after work, I put on old clothes and sprayed Malathion all over our Live Oak tree. It’s now higher than the house and the hose can barely get the spray up to the top branches. In the process I sprayed myself quite thoroughly as well.
Yes, I’ve showered and put my stinky clothes outside. But the house now reeks of that oily Malathion smell.
The good news is, the smell will be gone by tomorrow.
And so will the plague of worms.