November 09, 2014


Photographer: Tommy Hornbeck
Summary Authors: Tommy Hornbeck; Jackie Phillips

Webworms (Hyphantria cunea) are the larval stage of a white moth native to North America. In the winter they survive as pupae among leaves on the ground or in the upper layer of soil. Come spring and adult moths emerge to lay their eggs on the underside of leaves, typically on hardwood trees like the hickory photographed above. About a week later the eggs hatch into caterpillars that spin these webs and can sometimes consume the leaves of an entire tree. Healthy trees seem to suffer no long-term damage even after being completely defoliated.

In the photo above thousands of randomly oriented web strands deflect the late afternoon sunlight, creating an ethereal halo of light. Photo taken in Fort Scott, Kansas about 3 p.m. on September 25, 2014.

Photo Details: Nikon D7100, ISO 600, 1/250 Sec, f/8, 55mm lens, flash fill.