Bosque County residents with mesquite trees as part of their landscape may want to watch out for outbreaks of mesquite cutworms. Also, landowners hoping to foliar spray for mesquite control need to be aware of this new outbreak hitting Central Texas. Currently, this mesquite cutworm has been preying on mesquite trees from Eastland and Brownwood to Haskell to Graham, and appears to be rapidly spreading – consuming leaves off mesquite trees as it moves.
This wormis actually a caterpillar that is dark colored and has various colored spots on it with few short hairs. After defoliating all or part of a mesquite tree, the larvae will pupate in the soil and become moths later this fall and start a second generation, or could wait until spring to repeat the cycle.
The larvae will feed mostly during the cooler parts of the day and during the night. If left alone, the caterpillars will run their course and the mesquite will put on new leaves. While it does not appear that this pest will do any long term damage to the mesquite trees at this time, it does appear that anyone who had plans of foliar spraying mesquite trees in affected areas this year will have to postpone spraying for another year when mesquite foliage conditions will be more favorable.
(Photos curtsey of Dow AgroSciences)