Q: I’ve seen some webbing surrounding tree trunks and branches, what is that?

A. Good bugs…There are many beneficial insects, and that includes barklice, which weave webs against tree trunks during humid late summer days. They live together under the webbing and are scavengers cleaning debris, fungus or algae from the limbs. The do not bore into trees, nor eat leaves. They are not true lice, but a soft-bodied tiny insect. Leave them be, and they will move around your tree branches and provide a cleaning service for your garden. Other beneficial insects, which may look scary, include assassin bugs, some are bright red-orange with shiny black legs, as well as wheel bugs which can be over an inch long, with a wheel-shaped ridge along its gray body. They are predatory insects. They ambush anything they can catch to eat. If you disturb them on a plant, they will often just fall to the ground to avoid you. Another good guy, green lace wings, are often seen at night. With translucent elongated green wings, they flit from plant to plant. Their larvae look like the ladybug larva, or little insect alligators, who are voraciously eating aphids on garden plants before they pupate and emerge as the flying adults. The biggest predatory insect we see is the praying mantis. Watch closely to see nature doing good work in your garden.

Suzzanne Chapman
Author: Suzzanne ChapmanEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
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Suzzanne Chapman is the botanical collections curator at Mercer Botanic Gardens and promotes organic gardening, growing native plants, and protecting the environment. Send your questions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..