Cankerworms hatch early across North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The much-appreciated warm weather and pretty blooms of spring also bring out pesky cankerworms across North Carolina.

Cankerworms, the green worms that sway from trees on silk strands and drop on unsuspecting joggers, came early this year thanks to the warm weather.

South central parts of Charlotte have seen an increase in the worms for decades, according to

North Carolina State University’s NC Cooperative Extension Service.

Some believe the many willow oak trees across Charlotte encourage the worm outbreak, which should last about a month.

The worms, which feed on leaves, do not usually kill trees. But if trees lose too many leaves, they can weaken and succumb to other stresses like age, drought, other insects and disease.

To combat the infestation, the city put sticky bands around trees in November to trap female moths and prevent them from climbing the trees and laying their eggs. In 1990, the city asked homeowners and businesses to follow suit.

Periodical aerial spraying by plane and helicopter, most recently in 2008, has also cut down on Charlotte’s cankerworm population.

According to the city, the fiery searcher beetle preys on the worms and may be able to control the population.

In the past, the city has said for homeowners to remove their tree bands in March instead of mid-April so beetles can climb the trees to reach the worms.

Read more top trending stories from wsoctv.com: