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Extension Agent: Webs on trees

July 19, 2011 at 2:19 a.m.

Barklice webbing on oak trees is common in summer months.  The web provides a ghostly-look and protects the barklice, which are considered harmless to the trees. Barklice hatch from eggs laid singly, or in clusters, and are sometimes covered with silk or debris. Nymphs hatching from eggs resemble tiny wingless adults.

By Joe Janak Several calls have come in concerned with a veil-like web seen on tree trunks across Victoria. This is common during the summer months, and it is the result of barklice.

Barklice (Archipsocus nomas Gurney), grow to about inch long with adults having shiny black wings. Immature barklice, or nymphs, appear dark gray and pale banded between abdominal segments. Nymphs are very gregarious, clustering together in a "herd" on the bark, especially when moved with a finger.

Barklice hatch from eggs laid singly, or in clusters, and are sometimes covered with silk or debris. Nymphs hatching from eggs resemble tiny wingless adults. Most species develop through six stages. Barklice are forthcoming and live together underneath layers of silken webbing. Their mouthparts are for chewing, and they feed on fungi, algae, dead plant tissues and other debris found on the bark.

Consequently, they are considered harmless and perhaps beneficial to the trees they infest. They first appear in the spring. However, by late summer, silken webbing can completely wrap a large tree from the base of the trunk to the tips of the branches. Some people consider this webbing to be unsightly. Left undisturbed, these insects apparently eat and remove the silk webbing before populations decline by the end of the year.

Again, barklice's web may look ghostly and scary, but they are truly harmless and may be beneficial, so no control is recommended.

BEEF CATTLE SHORTCOURSE

The upcoming 57th Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course, sponsored by Texas AgriLife Extension, will take place in College Station, Texas Aug. 1-3. The short course features numerous educational sessions and workshops. These sessions will include information covering cattle production, forage management, nutrition, reproduction, record keeping, brush busting, cattle handling, landowner issues and much more.

The keynote speaker for this year's short course will be Dr. Temple Grandin of Colorado State University. She has received numerous awards including the Beef Top 40 Industry Leaders, and HBO recently premiered a movie documenting her life.

Participants can receive a Texas Department of Agriculture private pesticide applicator's license during the short course, and those already licensed can earn 10 pesticide CEUs.

Registration is $140 per person and includes a 600-page Beef Cattle Short Course proceedings, trade show admittance, admission to the famous Texas Aggie Prime Rib dinner, meals and daily refreshments. You can register and find more information by visiting beef.tamu.edu, or by calling Dr. Cleere's office at 979-845-6931.

MASTER GARDENER SYMPOSIUM

Mark your calendar for Sept. 24, as the Victoria County Master Gardener Association and Texas AgriLife Extension Service host a symposium from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring more than 10 speakers and topics related to trees and landscape plants. It will be at the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 333 Bachelor Drive, by the airport tower.

Highlighting the events, addressing recommended tree, shrub and landscape varieties, will be Heidi Sheesley, owner of Treesearch Farms from Houston. The Master Gardeners have worked with her in the past as a provider of gorgeous perennials, Texas natives and unique and unusual plants for the Gulf Coast region in previous plant sales. Her hard-to-get plants will once again be sold at this event.

Dr. Jerry Parsons, retired extension horticulturist from San Antonio who is noted for his gardening knowledge and humor, will be the luncheon speaker and will also present one of the nine breakout sessions. The symposium will feature a number of topics related to landscape trees, shrubs and perennials, recommended varieties, planting and their care, as well as topics on rainwater harvesting, xeriscape and EarthKind gardening, in-home and outside container gardening and habitats for wildlife, hummingbirds and butterflies.

Admission will be $50 for the day's events including lunch. It will be a day to gain great gardening information, as well as plants for your landscape.

Joe Janak is a Victoria County extension agent.

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