Tree Resilience to Inch Worms

June 6, 2024

I enjoy mowing the lawn!  I can experience nature from the seat of a riding lawn mower.  I’ve seen newborn fawns, rooster pheasants, wildflowers, bird nests and Baltimore Orioles while mowing.  The last two times I mowed the lawn I found that I was covered in green Inch Worm Caterpillars crawling on my sweatshirt and blue jeans.  The Inch Worms are little green caterpillars that measure their way around one inch at a time.  There are many species of Inch Worms, and this one is called a Geometer Moth.  Geometer has two root words to describe the larvae.  “Geo” refers to the earth as in “geography”.  And “meter” is a unit of measurement.  So, the name “Geometer” means something that measures the earth; Inch Worm.  Enough Latin today?  

Normally this insect does little damage to shade trees as a larvae.  They feed on many types of trees including Elm, Ash, Maple and more.  Farther to the south where this insect has more than two generations, they can do more damage.  I would not suggest spraying any trees for damage from Inch Worms.  But you may see them crawling on the ground, on your car, on the deck or elsewhere.  Don’t panic they are done feeding on foliage.

The caterpillars are now letting themselves down from the treetops on fine little wires of silk.  On the ground they will pupate and emerge as a small white moth.  Imagine living in a tree top and surviving birds foraging for food for their nestlings.  Then lowering your self down from the tree to an uncertain place you have never been before.  Then something amazing happens to your wormy body and your skin splits away.  How can an Inch Worm even imagine its new body that has now been created to fly in the night sky?  Our Creator God has an amazing plan even for Inch Worms! 

– Todd Brockshus, Sr. Horticulturist