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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Worms in Palo Verde

Q. This is  a picture of the worms we find on our PaloVerde tree in the back yard.  We would like to get rid of them but do not know how.  Is there something besides spraying the whole tree which is huge, a systemic maybe,  that would do the trick and not kill the tree. They make a mess of the sidewalk and other stuff under the tree.  Any help would be appreciated.

A. These critters have been reported elsewhere in the desert Southwest. Must be because of our wet spring weather. They should disappear in a matter of a week or two or less. It is a larva or caterpillar of a moth. I am not sure which one.

Some caterpillars fold or roll leaves together with silk to form shelters. Others feed on leaves beneath a canopy of silk, sometimes creating "nests" in foliage, and others devour entire leaves along with stems. Your tree can get a lot of damage from these critters and still be fine. If there is enough of them you should see a lot of their poop on the ground because they eat a lot, voraciously, before they pupate and begin the change into a moth.

You can spray with an organic pesticide such as BT or Spinosad but as far along as they are I think it's a waste of money. Even if they defoliate the tree it will relief again and come back out. Relax and have a glass of lemonade but don't put your lemonade under the tree.


  1. Hi, I have been having the same problem but it started by me (socal) in mid july and has continued through today. I had one palo verde tree completely defoliated and Im hoping the leaves grow back. I used a systemic drench and a triple action spray which helped kill many of the catepillars but I continue to see more each evening (not as many as before). I am going to do another drench and spray again soon. Any information you have would be most appreciated.

  2. The lizards and birds seem to love them ! Yum !