With cooler weather comes more pests

We have all been anxiously awaiting cooler weather, and you know who else has as well? Bugs and pests! This has been a busy month for spotting unusual bugs. Thankfully, many listeners share pictures with me, so here are some of the culprits- who poses a threat, and who is harmless?

Glossy, fat, yellow worms are defoliating some oak trees. Remember back around May I warned you of the oak leafminer that caused many oak tree leaves to become white and full of holes? Those have been long gone, so now these yellow ‘worms’ are actually the larvae of willow oak sawfly. They’ll eat the leaves right off an entire branch pretty quickly and leave nothing behind. If you get close, they may contort and curl as a defense mechanism. The good news is since oaks are set for leaf drop soon, these critters aren’t going to cause permanent damage.

Next are the Joro spiders! This big yellow spider makes large, three-dimensional webs and is now much more commonly seen in north Georgia than in years past. Many confuse these with writing spiders. Webs belonging to writing spiders are much less intricate. Also, Joros have distinctive yellow and blue-black stripes on their backs and red on their lower abdomen. Regardless of which type you have, or if you don’t really care to get close enough to look, they won’t harm you. Knock the web down, but you don’t have to kill the spider.

Saddleback and Puss caterpillars are two of the venomous ones you may encounter this time of year. Saddleback (pictured) is aptly named for the green saddle pattern on its back. Puss caterpillars may look cute and furry, but in that brown coat are venomous stingers. A third, just for good measure, is the tussock moth caterpillar. These are fuzzy yellow or white caterpillars with two long black antennae made of hair. Though said to not be venomous, the tussock moth caterpillar can still cause skin irritation.

A friend recently sent me a picture of an annoying ground bee that is too large to be a yellow jacket. Cicada killers wasps have a black body with yellow spots and their heads appear red. They are most likely to leave people alone, but really want those cicadas! You can use wasp killer (follow the directions on the can), but it is preferred to just wait it out, as they’ll be dying off soon anyways. Or, irrigate the spot in the yard where they’re known to hang out. They don’t like damp soil. But the Georgia Dept. of Agriculture warns we be on the lookout for the newly discovered Yellow legged hornet, first spotted in Savannah last month. This species could be harmful to honeybees and other beneficial, native bugs. To learn more and to see pictures, click here.





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