AUSTIN (KXAN) — A strange sight has greeted recent visitors to the Lady Bird Lake hike and bike trail – large, thick webbing hanging from trees and wrapped around leaves.
If you’re new to Central Texas, the webs may look bizarre – but there is nothing unusual about them as they pop up around this time every year.
Webworms, small caterpillars that gradually feed on trees over summer, spend the summer months spinning the intricate webs.
Rainfall usually tears down the webs, according to entomologist Wizzie Brown. The Austin area saw plenty of rain towards the end of May, indicating that the webs have sprung up quickly.
“As they continue to grow and they need more food, they’ll expand their webbing to encompass more foliage of the tree,” Brown, an extension program specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, told KXAN last year.
“So those webs keep getting larger throughout the season and it makes it easier to spot them.”
Webworms can appear in back yards, but Brown said they don’t usually cause significant damage before they disappear when the weather gets colder.
People may need to bear in mind that when webworms die, the webbing stays on the trees – so if rain doesn’t do the trick, human interference may be needed.
You’re most likely to just spot the webs, but you don’t need to panic if you come face to face with a webworm. They can’t sting you, and you can touch them.
“When we have new people moving into the area from out of state and they haven’t experienced a lot of the insects that we’re used to seeing if we’ve been in Texas for a while, I get a lot of questions from those people,” Brown added.
“We have a lot of different types of insects and a lot of them are very large or obvious, and that can be a startling thing to experience when you move here.”