Pecans in peril: Webworms to blame - - No One Gets You Closer

Pecans in peril: Webworms to blame

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BONHAM, Texas -- Webworms are running amok this time of year across Texas. And they might have an impact on some our favorite autumn crops.

In some places, you'll find the fall webworm attached to nearly every tree. And on Pecan Street in Bonham, the insects are invading the pecan tree in the front yard of Freda Standlee and Don Movothy.

"See here? Worms are starting to eat it," Standlee said. "That's a worm hole."

The webworms cause the tree to die by feeding off all the leaves. And the pecans? They, too are in peril from the scab fungus.

Webworms at work
Webworms at work on a pecan tree in Bonham. (KTEN)

"I just kept watching them, and these trees are just dying right and left," Standlee said. "It's so sad to watch them die, and no one's doing anything."

Fannin County AgriLife Extension agent Cody Maxwell has been trying to figure out what caused the influx of these worms and the scab fungus.

"We had all that rain back in August; we have all this moisture just shooting up this tree, and going to the parts that need it," he explained. "The leaves, the pecans on there that are forming. You have a flux of moisture, then you turn off hot and dry, and that's the prime going environment for a fungus, so that's what we're seeing."

So what can you do? There are two ways to go: Either wait for the next big rain to wash away the webworms, or apply insecticide to quell the infestation.

"Permethrin, cyfluthrin, bifenthrin... those are some of the classes of pyrethroids that will work against these fall webworms," Maxwell said. "So if a person is interested in controlling them, those are the insecticide classes that will work."

But saving pecans from the scab fungus remains a concern for many.

"I'm crying, I'm crying," Standlee said. "My pecan pie will be no more, not this year."

Experts say these webworms will go away in the winter when they borrow into the ground. But right now, they are here to stay in our trees for a little bit longer.

Fall webworm information

Scab fungus information

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