|Yep, those are all wrecks|
I tried to get out again on Saturday, and I made it a block before I slipped into a skid on a downhill and came to a gentle stop wedged against the curb. I was totally unharmed and rather lucky to be within an easy walk of my house, but I felt foolish for letting my cabin fever get the better of me. It was so slippery I couldn't even walk-- one of my neighbors came out to offer me a hand leaving the ice patch. I was slowly sliding downhill in my snow boots. He seemed skeptical when I said I was fine and could make it home on my own. I guess I was so fired up to get out because I haven't really gone walking in a couple weeks and it's been wet and cold. I appreciate the snow and ice for recharging the aquifer, but I miss going outside.
|View of my backyard|
|Two new friends.|
|A male fall webworm moth|
Fashionable as he may be, the fall webworm moth is a pest to many horticulturalists. They are called "webworms" because their caterpillars graze socially within a silk tent on branches. The netting lessens predation. Their caterpillars tend to prefer broadleaf trees, and in Texas they favor pecans. Like many other pests, their damage is mostly cosmetic. Even complete defoliation by webworms is unlikely to seriously harm a tree. It's just unsightly. Though it was certainly too cold for this moth to fly (many insects are unable to fly at temperatures below 55F), late february is not excessively early for these fellas to emerge.
Fall webworm moths are native to most of North America, and they have invaded eastern europe and asia. Apparently they were accidentally introduced in Yugoslavia in the 40s, and they expanded from there. I feel a little vindicated, because there are few other non-native insect pests you hear about colonizing in that direction. While they are not a major problem in the States, I'd be interested to hear whether they are harder on the ecosystem outside their native range. Considering that we live in a world with truly catastrophic invasive pests, I have trouble taking a little aesthetic damage seriously. I hope that's something horticulturalists consider when creating a management plan for this little moth.