The other day we received a message from a reader who wants to know how to get rid of inchworms and silkworms, or how to get rid of “inch worms” and “silk worms,” as she has it. To call what we received a “message” is a bit misleading, however, since all we were sent was a mere sentence fragment composed almost entirely of capital letters. (Inexplicably, one instance of the word “worm” was written normally, but the rest was all caps.) We’ll try our best to answer our reader’s question, such as it is.
This will be difficult, however, because apart from the question’s structural shortcomings – “HOW TO GET RID OF INCH worms/SILK WORMS” is the whole thing – we are lacking all relevant details about the reader’s situation. We have no idea where the inchworms are being found, and so it is essentially impossible to outline any sort pest control strategy. Occasionally, people will find inchworms in places like their kitchen or their laundry room, and in these instances we generally just recommend sweeping out the worms because they likely can’t be a part of any sort of larger infestation. Inchworms feed on trees and shrubs, so they aren’t well suited to live indoors. Thus, when people do find them inside for whatever reason, this shouldn’t be cause for concern. However, when they are found outside in large enough numbers, they can present problems for a plant’s health. If our reader found them outside, she can read our article about how to get rid of inchworms.
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We would have a slightly more concrete grasp of the reader’s circumstances if we knew what kind of creature she is dealing with, but she only indicates that she is dealing with “INCH worms/SILK WORMS.” By “silk worm,” we suspect our reader is just referring to one of the many types of inchworms that produce silk threads, but what’s confusing is that silkworms are actually a very famous type of caterpillar that are unrelated to inchworms. (Inchworms are the larval form of Geometer moths, and silkworms are the larval form of a Bombycidae moth, so they belong to different taxonomic families.) When people use the word “silkworm,” they are generally referring to the larval form of silk moths (Bombyx mori), the famous producers of silk.
To further complicate the situation, there are some caterpillars that produce silk that are not inchworms or silkworms. For example, fall webworms and tent caterpillars are both common types of caterpillars that build webs in trees. Fall inchworms belong to the family Arctiidae and tent caterpillars belong to the family Lasiocampidae. So, a broad range of different caterpillars might (rightly or wrongly) be called “silkworms” or “silk worms,” and not all pests can be controlled the same way, or even need to be controlled at all. Thus, we recommend that our reader look more closely into the matter of identification, and then she can look for more targeted information about pest removal. If she needs help, she should feel free write us another email, perhaps with a few more details and with the caps lock turned off, if she pleases.
Unfortunately, our reader’s question in this instance does not lend itself to a definite answer, so we had to content ourselves with supplying general information and links to other resources. Hopefully this will still be of some assistance, however.
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