Removing Webworm From a Native Black Cherry

I just moved to a new house about a year ago. One of the first things I did was plant several native trees and herbs. One in particular that I’ve always wanted but couldn’t have at my last house because of space and light constraints was an Eastern Black Cherry (Prunus Serotina var. serotina).

When mature, this is a big, beautiful messy tree, loved by birds and wildlife. The fruit is edible – it’s what black cherry candy and soda are made of.

However, it’s not the fruits you find in the grocery store. Those are from sweet cherry (Prunus avium) and sour cherry (Prunus ceraus). Black cherries trees tend to grow larger than sweet or sour cherries trees. When you see furniture that’s made of “cherry wood” black cherry is the tree they are talking about.

Baby black cherry tree a few weeks after planting it.
My black cherry blooming

(Editor’s note: product links in this post are Amazon affiliate links. You can start your cherry growing on Amazon, and we make a small commission if you do. How cool is that?!?)

You can buy black cherry seeds or plants online.

Humans and birds love to eat the fruit of the black cherry, however, all other parts are poisonous to us. That doesn’t mean something doesn’t want to eat the rest of it. Black cherries are extremely susceptible to tent worms in the spring and webworm in the fall.  

Webworms aren’t always a problem. If this was a mature and otherwise healthy tree I probably would have ignored it. In fact when I first noticed a little web a few weeks ago I did ignore it. When I went out and saw how big the nest had gotten and how many leaves had been eaten I realized I had to do something about it. This tree isn’t well established enough to deal with that amount of webworms. 

I’ve never removed and treated for webworms personally before. When I was a kid we got them on several of our pecans and other plants. I remember my stepfather taking them down with a rake and putting the nests in a big pile to burn.

Some people will try to burn the worms right out of the tree. Don’t do that!!!! You can’t take a flamethrower to a tree and not expect there to be sadness. Only you can prevent wild fires! If you are going to burn anything in your yard you need to do it in a controlled, safe way. I put the worms into my fire pit.  

After pruning all the parts that were too damaged. I sprayed the rest with Natures Garden Insecticidal Soap which I might not have needed to do, but it seemed like a good idea, just in case I missed any. I use this product for other insect issues in my yard and it’s always worked pretty well.  

Since the webworms were so bad on the black cherry I checked my other new natives, finding small web on my eastern redbud which I removed by hand without having to prune the tree at all.  

I hopefully took the right actions to keep the black cherry safe and happy.  I’m looking forward to seeing it become a giant shade tree in a few years, covered with birds.