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Pests & Diseases > Webbing Caterpillar

Webbing Caterpillars are grubs that encase themselves in a web-like structure consisting of foliage and droppings and can cause severe defoliation. Leptospermum and Melaleuca are plants that are most affected by these insects.

Cause The caterpillars build a cocoon while pulling the stems and leaves together to form a sac that looks very much like the sawdust made by a borer.

Image courtesy Gardening Australia ABC1

The caterpillars can totally strip the foliage, resulting in complete skeletonizing of the plant. A plant weakened in this way will not survive once planted out.

Prevention Check daily. Watch your seedlings for webbing and insects themselves.

Cure Manually remove the nests of material and cut off the affected branches. Removal of the sac and web by hand and elimination of the caterpillar and sac in a manner of your choice is the best form of control. However, if the infestation is severe and extensive, then chemical control with Carbaryl may be needed. A natural spray such as Dipel may be used but the results are not always as successful.