Black-dotted brown moth caterpillars eat oak leaves

red oak leaves

Q: I have a 50 ft tall red oak tree that has been denuded of leaves by caterpillars for the second year in a row. They ate everything but the veins. I have many white oaks that are also affected but not as badly.

The caterpillars are a small, black inch-worm. I have seen them in the past and usually they are taken care of by birds, but that has not been the case this year and last.

When I sprayed insecticide on the trunk the caterpillars came out of the nooks and crannies in the bark by the hundreds. They also came down off the branches on silk web strings. They vary in size from about 1/2 inch to 1 1/4 inch Is there anything that can be done now, or in the future to prevent this?

There was bark damage on my white oaks, but not much on the red oak. I assume the sloughing off of the white oak bark to be the work of birds trying to get the caterpillars.

A: What a wild experience! You have a visitation by the caterpillars of the black-dotted brown moth, Cissusa spadix. They hide in leaf litter around the tree during the day. At night they emerge and climb the trunk to get to their supper.

It is a new caterpillar to most people. There have been recent writings of other outbreaks in Georgia.

It is too late to apply the imidacloprid drench now. Consider doing so when leaves emerge next spring.

See Discover Life  for a good description.

Also  Late night snacking

Also, this link works sometimes—Tree-Conservation-Notes?bidId=

red oak leaves

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