En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - August 21, 2008

From: Sugar Land, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests
Title: Webs on trees and porch
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

i have webs all over my semi covered porch in my back yard. i have noticed these small webs are also on the trees in my backyard. what are they and are they dangerous to the trees or my family who sit on our back porch.

ANSWER:

We aren't entomologists but we'll tell you what we know about webs around the Central Texas area. There are webworms (Hyphantria cunea) and there are tent caterpillars (Malacosoma americanum) that build webs in various species of trees. The webs enclose moth caterpillars that feed on the leaves. One of these might be a possibility for the webs in your trees, but aren't very likely to be what is on your house since there is no food there for the caterpillars. As for harm, they can damage your trees but don't pose a danger to you, your children or your pets.

Another possibility for webs on trees, generally on the trunk of the tree, are barklice (Archipsocus nomas). The bark lice, which aren't really lice at all but insects called psocids, are feeding on fungi, lichens and other debris on the trunk of the tree. In other words, they are cleaning your tree and, thus, are probably beneficial to it. They produce the web to protect themselves from wind, rain and predators. Since they feed on fungi, algae, lichen and such, it is possible that they could be feeding on these organisms that grow on your covered porch as well. The bark lice, like the caterpillars, are not harmful to you or your family, nor are they harmful to your trees and/or porch. Here are photos of bark lice.

I suggest that you contact the Fort Bend County Extension Service. They may have some insight about what is building webs in your area.

 

More Pests Questions

Affect of poisonous plant roots in soils for vegetables from Rusk TX
May 11, 2013 - I have a huge old flowerbed in front of my house that I want to plant veggies in, but I'm afraid to. It has a catalpa tree there, which I sell the worms from, but the entire tree (bark, leaves, flowe...
view the full question and answer

Use of saltwater to kill weeds in gravel in Hamilton Co. TX
May 26, 2010 - I want to get rid of weeds and grasses in our gravel driveway and parking areas. Which would be less harmful to the adjacent native plants and trees: saltwater or herbicide?
view the full question and answer

Effects of salt sprinkled on garden
June 29, 2006 - The kids accidentally sprinkled salt on the plants in the garden. How do you counter the effect of the salt so the plants will not die. I would appreciate your response. Thank you.
view the full question and answer

Trumpet creeper with ants in Belchertown MA
July 23, 2011 - My Campsis Vine is having one of the maximum blossom years it gets after a good pruning. This year, I have black carpenter ants on the blossoms and the flowers are rotting from the edges down on some...
view the full question and answer

Swarming insects on non-native willow in Washington PA
September 25, 2011 - I have had a very large, beautiful pillow willow bush/tree growing next to our garage for about 8 years. Last year at the end of August, it began to attract white-faced hornets and yellow jackets by t...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center