Inch worms leaving mess for several homeowners

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) -  Take cover!

Bug droppings are raining down on parts of Chesterfield County.   Experts tell us, it's something that happens only about once every decade: an over-population of inch worms.

They're chomping up leaves and making a mess in Midlothian.   People should be concerned because although they're only an inch long, those worms can eat a majority of the leaves on a tree, leaving trees bare this spring.

Even on a clear, sunny day it's raining in Carla Nelm's backyard.

"It has been coming down non-stop for weeks," said the Midlothian homeowner.

Tiny black dots about the size of a speck of sand are raining down on her property.  They are droppings from thousands of inch worms.

"And it's just constant, constant consume and release, consume and release," said Nelms.

The worms that may be cute to kids are eating away at trees in Midlothian.

"It's ruining our enjoyment of our deck because we really can't sit out because it will land in your food or your drink," said Nelms.  "It's probably just landed on you."

The worms are crawling into her house.  They're crawling on her dog,  and 5 minutes into our interview one crawled up our photographer's leg.

Inch worm expert Mike Likins said despite being bare, healthy trees will survive.

"This is not something we recommend you go out and spray for, because usually by the time you see the damage, it's too late," said Likins who works for the Chesterfield County Cooperative Extension Office.

In just two days, he's answered more than two dozens calls about the inch worms.   Although he's tracking an inch worm spike in Midlothian, he said the wind does carry them away.   Inch worms were caught feasting on this tree at county headquarters off of Iron Bridge Road.

"So you may see a lot of bird activity, because they're coming in, they say this is a free meal," said Likins.

Carla welcomes the birds.  She's over her leaves looking like fish bones.

Mike Likins offered a bit of good news.  He said, since the droppings are made from leaves, the droppings will work like a fertilizer when they hit the ground.  Likins said the over-population of inch worms will soon be over, because they are getting ready to transform into moths.

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