Orange-Striped Oakworm

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In the video above, an orange-striped oakworm makes its way through pine straw and leaf debris near the trunk of a tree.

In the late summer and early fall, Charlotte yards host a hungry crawler that love to feed on oak leaves. They're called the orange-striped oakworm. And their favorite meal is oak leaves. They usually defoliate the leaves or one or two branches of oak trees in August and September. But they also like maple, birch and hickory trees too.

How to Spot the Orange-Striped Oakworm 

These two-inch-long black caterpillars with orange stripes love to hang out on sidewalks or in the grass under your trees. You may also notice their frass pellets (feces) on your deck, patio or sidewalk. By fall, these caterpillars are finished feeding and are crawling down tree trunks to find suitable places in the ground to pupate. By that time, the damage to the tree is already done.

Will it Kill my Trees?

In most cases, the orange-striped oakworm won't kill a healthy tree. "They are typically more of a nuisance than a true danger since the damage is limited to small areas of trees," said Charlotte City Arborist Laurie Reid. "Charlotte residents can take some comfort in that. But if you're still concerned about the health of your trees, contact an International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) certified arborist for assistance."

An orange striped oakworm on the sidewalk An orange striped oakworm on a bare branch