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White and Black Striped Worms that Attack Trees: Redbud Leaffolders

A distressed reader wrote to us a while ago about a worm infestation affecting one of the trees in her garden. The black and white striped worms were attacking her “twisted weeping lavender tree,” which we’ve since gathered is often simply called a “weeping redbud” or a “lavender twist.” The small striped worms are causing the leaves of the redbud tree to turn brown, and since the tree is, from the reader’s perspective, “the apple of my eye in my front flowerbed,” she is highly concerned about its health. The worms, whose black and white stripes run horizontally across their bodies, are all over the trees’ leaves, suggesting that the infestation is fairly severe. What are the worms our reader is finding? They are almost certainly Redbud leaffolders (sometimes “leaffolders” is broken apart into “leaf folders,” or if you want to be scientifically exact, you can call the species Fascista cercerisella). More precisely, they are very likely the larvae of redbud leaffolder moths, which means the reader is dealing with caterpillars, not worms.