HOUSTON Heidi Keener says her home in Woods Edge, in Fort Bend County, used to be a pecan farm.
In fact, it was the decades old trees that attracted her to the area.
That s why we live out here, said Keener, Because of the beautiful trees and scenery.
But in early June, hordes of walnut caterpillars stripped her trees bare within days.
It looked like winter, she said.
And the caterpillars were all over her property, covering her front porch, her pool, and even crawling up the sides of her home.
Horticulturist Boone Holladay calls Keener s neighborhood ground zero. He said the cold winter, combined with plenty of rain in recent weeks, allowed for the large volume of caterpillars, and that the loss of foliage puts a great stress on the pecan trees.
We may see some of these trees start to die, said Holladay.
The worry now is about the next generation of the caterpillars, which are expected to show up in the next week.
Holladay said the bugs don t like to eat new foliage so communities that have already been hit hard, like Pecan Creek, Pecan Grove and Woods Edge, may not get hit again.
But it means areas from Waller County down to Brazoria County are susceptible.
The county extension agent is urging residents and commercial pecan producers to spray a special pesticide and to check the underside of trees for groups of eggs.
Hollday also says the caterpillar waste small brown pellets are also a tell-tale sign.
You know the young caterpillars are up there feeding, even before you see the damage on the trees, he said.
For more information, visit the Texas Pecan Integrated Pest Management website: http://pecan.ipmpipe.org/