Many homeowners have panicked this summer after seeing their oak tree’s trunk and limbs covered with webbing that resembles panty hose. We get many calls asking whether their tree is going to die. The good news is that the trees will be OK.
The webbing is caused by a member of the psocid family called bark lice. Bark lice are small soft-bodied insects about 1/8” long that live under the protective webbing. They feed on the algae, lichen, fungi and molds that naturally grow on tree bark. The webbing is almost never found on the tree foliage.
During the summer and early fall the long periods of high humidity along the Gulf coast are conducive for invasions of these insects. It is not uncommon for the webbing to start at the bottom and proceed all the way to the top of the tree.
There are no control recommendations as infestations do not result in damage to the trees and the bark lice will leave on their own accord. The webbing is fragile and will deteriorate over the summer. If you are really bothered by the bark lice, a solution of 2 to 4 tablespoons dish soap per gallon of water and sprayed on the webbing may encourage the insects to leave and find another tree.