Having a few inch worms is not destructive to the natural habitat since many trees and plant life can survive minimal inchworm feeding. However, when the number of inchworms grows, they can become a destructive pest, often damaging vegetable crops and ornamental trees, shrubs and flowers. The inchworm can be particularly destructive once an infestation is present because female moths lay their eggs in both fall and spring cycles.
To find out if you have inch worms, you can lightly shake plants to check for worms and larvae, or you can carefully examine branches for signs of infection. Infected plants will have noticeable tiny and irregularly shaped holes between the veins. Generally reaching one inch in length, they can be any color from white to green or black and are smooth and hairless.
The diet of an inchworm varies by its species. Typical inchworms cause damage on apple trees, oaks, and sweet gums. Other species of inchworm prefer vegetable gardens and will feast upon almost any vegetable you plant, including tomatoes, celery, beans, potatoes, cabbage, and radishes.
The best type of prevention of an inchworm infestation is making sure your lawn or garden is hospitable to the inchworm’s natural predators like birds. Attracting birds with a birdhouse is a great way to get ahead of the problem.
However, if the infestation is large enough to present significant damage, you may opt to hire a professional to take care of the problem. A professional extermination company may use any number of treatment options.