Did you know the silkworm is a larva of the silkworm moth? Yes, if left to go through the entire metamorphosis, the silkworm becomes a moth. And the worm is either domesticated or wild. Wild silkworms live in the forests fending for themselves hence the term wild silkworms. They’re very destructive if left to multiply.
Some of the ways to get rid of silkworms is by pruning the branch they have infested. You can also handpick them from the branch or tree, introduce predators, strong light, insecticides, or enlist the services of professionals. Unless bred for silk, silkworms can be a menace to the farm.
It gets worse when they infest your trees and plants. They make them look terrible as they form their nests on the trees and multiply to the branches fast. Wait until that moment when they poop on your clothes. It gets ugly. You should read on and learn how to get rid of them for these reasons.
Why Do You Need to Get Rid of Silkworms?
While domesticated silkworms make silk, wild ones can easily turn into a menace and turn all your efforts to naught. How so?
Silkworms will eat up the leaves on your trees and can potentially clean the entire yard. Once they infest, if you don’t get rid of them soon enough, you will have a playing field where you had a garden.
The silkworms cling together on the leaves. As they feed and make nests, you will observe the unpleasant sight.
Additionally, like spiders, the silkworms form webs around the tree branches as nests, giving them a bad look.
3. Stain Laundry
If the silkworms come across your laundry and poop on it, they create spots on them that are hard to remove.
You will be forced to invest in costly stain removers, and still, the stains can fail to come off, especially if they were discovered late.
Some classes of silkworms, such as the Obliqua, possess harmful toxins for humans. For example, they have venom in them that some people are allergic to, and their bristles affect the human skin making it itchy and painful.
How to Get Rid of Silkworms
If you spot the unwanted silkworms on your field, here’s how to eliminate them:
If you observe the silkworms before they fully take over your trees, you can pick them up by hand to prevent a full-blown infestation.
In case their web is highly placed on the trees, you can use a broom to access the branch and disseminate it in good time.
Soak them in a bucket or container full of warm soapy water, and you will have gotten rid of them entirely.
Get your pruning scissors ready when you discover the silkworms on your trees. Although they may not affect the branch where their nest is placed, you may have to cut it off to prevent further spreading.
Before you decide to cut off the branch, ensure you have explored other options such as handpicking. It’s important since it’ll take time before another sprout once you cut off the branch.
One man’s meat is another’s poison. The same happens in the ecosystem. For example, silkworms can make a good meal for certain harmless feeders such as birds.
You can place a bird’s nest within the proximity of the branches with the silkworm webs. That will alert and attract the birds fast to feast on them. Alternatively, you can place a bird feeder close to the worms’ nests. This way, the birds will feed and leave instead of having them reside on the trees.
Another predator that works as fine on silkworms is the wasp. Again, you could introduce them to the nests, so they make a good meal out of the silkworms.
While bearded dragons eat silkworms when in captivity, they’re not an efficient predator to use in the control of wild silkworms.
Introducing lighting into the webs will stunt and affect the growth of the silkworms. As such, open the nest and hang a torch in it. The torch’s uninterrupted lighting and heating will kill the silkworm and hinder further infestation.
The faster and easier way to get rid of silkworms is to use insecticides. First, you can opt for the insecticides when you discover the infestation late, meaning most trees are affected. Secondly, if the affected branches are highly placed, you may have to spray them instead of pruning them.
As you shop for the insecticide, go for one with bacillus thuringiensis, commonly abbreviated as BT.
The BT compound is effective in eliminating the silkworm and is equally harmless on plants and humans.
Read the instructions on your chosen insecticides and follow them to the letter. Also, take preventive measures such as wearing gloves and masks as you spray to protect yourself from any potential harm.
6. Consult Professionals
Suppose you are not sure of the best way to eliminate silkworms. Simply get in touch with a professional in your area. The experts will advise you on the best way to stop them based on several aspects such as the extent of the infestation ands type of silkworm.
You could even let them handle the removal since they have the tools and knowledge on how best to handle the worms.
These methods should have you less worried about the unsightly silkworms spread on the trees.
But, how do you ensure you don’t get to this point? First, keep the silkworms at bay at the right time.
So, here is:
How to Prevent Silkworms Infestation
You can avoid dealing with the silkworms’ menace in good time by implementing the following:
1. Deal with the Eggs
The silkworms are at an advanced stage from the eggs. So if you could have eliminated the eggs, you wouldn’t be handling the larva stage’s silkworms.
So, since the eggs are laid in the winter season, check out the branches for the shiny brown bulbs and wipe them off.
Or, once you identify them either under the leaves or on top, you could prune the branch off.
2. Horticultural Oils
These work perfectly in keeping the silkworms at bay. When the plants are dormant, prepare them by applying horticultural oils during the idle season.
Timing is key when applying the oils. Once the plants are growing, keep off the oils as they can have devastating effects on your plants.
3. Plant Sunflower
Sunflower and other insect-friendly plants will attract wasps and other insects that can feed on the silkworms.
Plant them in good time to allow the insects to attack them before spreading on your entire farm. You could aid the wasps by opening up the silkworms’ webs to give them access to the worms.
Introduce nematodes in good time to ward off the silkworms before they attack your trees. Get the right combination that will discourage worms’ infestation. Nematodes are larger worms such as roundworms or threadworms.
You could consult an expert on this to ensure you have the right combination of the nematodes. Follow instructions carefully to avoid mishaps on your farm that could be counterproductive.
The silkworm possesses some benefits that go a long way in improving our lives. For example, in the textile industry, silkworms can be raised to produce silk. Domesticated silkworms are easy to control as you get to choose and monitor where they stay. You are also in control of what to feed them. Of course, the mulberry is their favorite.
Wild silkworms feed on the mulberry and other tree species. They feast on your trees, defoliating them while making unsightly nests on the branches. For these reasons, the methods raised on how to get rid of them come in handy.
Get rid of the silkworms and allow the trees to breathe and grow uninterrupted.
The Ohio State University. Giant Silkworm Moth Caterpillar Toxicity.
Colorado State University. Tent-Making Caterpillars.
North Dakota State University. Worm-free sweet corn.