Worms Pester Passers-by

They’re creepy, they’re crawly and they’re all over

campus. Though other insects on campus, including large wasps called cicadia killers and caterpillars, can be a nuisance, the worms that appear to be hanging from trees are perhaps the most noticeable and bothersome. “What some call silkworms are actually Mimosa Webworms,” said Daniel Pavuk, University Ecologist.

The worms have been known to fall on people as they are walking across campus. And when the worms fall on people they can be transported to new locations.

“The most serious issue is that these worms are falling on cars and students are bringing them home,” said Alex D’Ettorre, USG Senator. “They’re being spread around.”

The webworms also serve as a daily nuisance to many students while walking around campus.

“I nap on the green between classes and a couple of times I’ve had them fall on me,” said Heather Zibbel, senior. “They fall off the trees and they’ll be on me in class and some people will take them off of me.”

The worms have become such a problem, a facebook group has been created specifically for the worms called the BGSU Alliance Against Silkworms and has about 175 members.

“Although it may seem as if the webworms are more prevalent than past years, this is just a coincidence,” Pavuk said.

“The amount year to year can be very different,” Pavuk said. “There’s not necessarily a reason why there are more this year.”

Although the webworms live throughout the summer, they only become noticeable in the late summer and early fall. This happens because the amount of webworms increase based on their life cycles.

The webworms feed on Mimosa and ornamental honeylocust trees leaves. There are many honeylocust trees around campus because they are commonly used as ornamental trees and are resistant to pollution, Pavuk said.

But planting different trees wouldn’t solve the pest problem.

“All trees have some kind of insect problems, ” Pavuk said. The other trees that the campus has had in the past including ash trees and elm trees have attracted insects or have developed disease, Pavuk said.

Although webworms feed on the leaves of honeylocust trees, there is a small chance the tree will die. There is only potential for the tree to die if the tree had already been weakened by something else.

“While students and faculty are walking into webworms and their webs on campus, they are harmless,” Pavuk said. “And once winter comes, they will become pupae.”