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Oak tree pests strike quickly
Clark MacCallister
The extension office has received several calls in the past week from people concerned about insects munching on their oak trees. Most complain of finding large parts of their oak trees rapidly defoliated, with nothing but the midrib of the leaves remaining. This time of year, the damage is most likely caused by the caterpillar stage of an insect called the orange-striped oakworm. Orange-striped oakworms mainly feed on oak species, but may also infest other species, such as hickory and birch. They normally show up in Georgia between August and September. The larval caterpillar stage is what causes the defoliation on oak trees. Caterpillars are fairly easy to spot and identify. They are normally 1.5 to 2 inches long, and have black bodies with several orange/yellow stripes running down their backs. They also have a pair of black spines behind their heads and several pairs of smaller spines on their other body segments.