Per Hoboken City Code, property owners are responsible for caring for street trees and tree pits in front of their property, as well as all vegetation on their private property. Web worms have been increasing in prevalence in Hudson County.
These are native insects, not invasive pests. They prefer some tree species like Cherry, Crabapples, Elms, London Planes, Maples, Sweetgum, Tree of Heaven, Willows, and Birches over others, but they are not harmful or lethal to the trees. Web worms drop to the ground, pupate to over-winter and the adult moth will emerge late spring into summer where they will fly up to lay new eggs.
Below are some suggestions to manage web worms:
Strategy 1: They're Only Ugly
Before panicking, the first thing you should know is that these webworms don't typically cause a lot of damage to trees and shrubs. They look far worse than they are. So if you don't mind them, the most organic approach is to simply let them be.
The fall webworm feeds on foliage late in the summer, after most photosynthesis has been completed. The trees are already preparing for winter dormancy, so few energy reserves or nutrients are lost.
Strategy 2: Remove the Webs
In small trees, the most effective solution can be to physically remove the webbing with a shovel, rake, or even a big stick, and the caterpillars can be put in a bucket of soapy water. It is recommended to remove the nest in the early morning or evening, when the caterpillars are less active. Often, it may be possible to control fall web worm by tearing the web apart with a rake or a strong blast of water from a garden hose. Throw the nests in the trash.
Even if you can't completely remove the nests, don't worry. Simply damaging them and opening up a hole is enough to allow birds or beneficial insects to get rid of the pests for you.
Strategy 3: Contact an Expert
Consult a New Jersey licensed tree care expert who can inspect the issue and recommend solutions.