The Threat of the California Oakworm

by / Friday, 01 June 2018 / Published in Blog

One of the more common trees found in the Bay Area in both urban and wild areas are coastal live oaks. For many homeowners in this region of the state, they have seen the trees on their property devastated by the California Oak worm. According to many of the local area arborists and tree care service specialists, healthy live oaks can survive these pests and withstand its defoliating effects. However, unhealthy trees are prone to losing their limbs and a number of more serious issues that are attributed this pest.

Frequency of Infestation

While Oakworm infestations are irregular in nature, live oaks can be free of infestation for several years once they’ve experienced a heavy pest outbreak. Unfortunately, the California Oak worm is indigenous to this area of the state and they do play a significant role in our local ecosystem, as a food source for many birds and other insects. Because of this, arborists and tree care service specialists consider their role in the environment before treating the trees on your property.

Identification is the Key

Coastal live oaks are subject to a number of similar looking issues so the first step to any treatment action is identification of the problem. In many cases, homeowners will misdiagnose pumpkin Gail and root rot defoliation as a California Oak worm attack. However, the consequences are unmistakably different. Relying on certified arborists or tree trimming specialists in Palo Alto for a proper diagnosis is always the best course of action when dealing with these pests.

What to Look for

The California Oak worm is a caterpillar measuring up to 3cm long. They have yellowish stripes running down their backs while the head of the pest ranges from dark brown to red in color. When the caterpillar moth is active, you can dislodge them from a tree by shaking any of its lower limbs. The moths are typically brown or gray in color and you will usually find them feeding on the underside of the tree’s leaves near its base. They are easier to spot at dawn and dusk when they are fluttering about within the canopy.

Additional Considerations

Although the California Oak worm is rarely fatal, it does create an aesthetic problem as it defoliates the trees on your property or when the caterpillars are congregating on the exterior walls of your home or your patio furniture. Certified arborists and tree care service specialists can provide a number of treatment options and should be called on whenever you suspect that there is a problem. You need to work with a company that is licensed and insured services so that you get the best service.

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