Walking to my car is miserable.
August 22, 2010 12:01 AM   Subscribe

Help with these giant cobweb-like strands hanging from my tree!

There is a tree that extends over my driveway, and over the past few weeks, dozens of long, single-strand cobwebs have appeared. I don't know if they are spider webs or made by silkworms, but they go all the way to the ground (and sometimes, by morning, to my car).

Some of them have a leaf stuck to them so they're easier to avoid, but walking to my car, I inevitably get covered in these things. It's not a pleasant feeling and then they stick like crazy.

So, is there anything I can do to get them off the tree? I've thought about using a hose, but the only faucet is behind the house and I'm not sure the hose I have would be long enough, plus they'd probably just come back in a day or two. I'm not sure I can afford to hire someone to spray the tree, either, if pesticides would work.

Also, once they do get stuck on me, is there any way to get them off quickly and easily?
posted by IndigoRain to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You really need to post some more information. It sounds like caterpillars (maybe gypsy moth), but could be spiders. Young bugs or spiders can spin a long strand, hang from the bottom, and then hope that the wind catches the strand and they sail to a new location - from 10s of feet to miles away.

1) What is your location.
2) What type of tree are they starting from.
3) Look at the bottom of the strands for a fairly small creature which can be well camouflaged and take a picture of it. You may have to examine a number of strands to find one that is still inhabited.

[I hope that by mentioning that in addition to your being covered in strands you may also be covered in bugs doesn't increase your squick factor]
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 4:25 AM on August 22, 2010

These are almost certainly caterpillars. When frightened, they attach a line and drop, spinning out line as they fall. After a while, they climb back up the line. Sometimes they drop off the bottom of the line (they're caterpillars, not rocket scientists). In either case, you won't see the caterpillar. Only little ones do this--I've never seen it done by a caterpillar more than an inch long.

Ballooning spiders spin a line to be caught by the wind, but you are not likely to see those because the spiders wait for a breeze, and the lines they spin aren't very long.
posted by hexatron at 6:03 AM on August 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Do you want a permanent solution, or just to be able to get out to your car without getting yuck all over you?

'Cause when dealing with persistent spiderwebs where I need to walk (spider rebuilds multiple times before it gets the hint and moves), I usually just take a long stick and bat it all to one side before walking through. Even if you can't see them, if you do this while going under your tree, you should be able to at least temporarily clear a path.
posted by galadriel at 6:08 AM on August 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I've definitely seen small caterpillars do this. Spraying the tree would probably work, but if you can't be bothered, then galadriel's stick idea sounds like a good one. Something like a long broomstick, waved in wide (vertical) circles in front of you as you walk-- looks completely ridiculous, but very effective at clearing webs that may be obstructing your path.
posted by Bardolph at 7:30 AM on August 22, 2010

I am in northwest Indiana. I had to ask what kind of tree - it's a honey locust.
posted by IndigoRain at 1:10 PM on August 22, 2010

thirding "spider" stick. they're de rigeur for walking through the woods, too. you will probably feel a bit idiotic waving it around in the air at nothing apparent, but, hey! no filaments stuck to your face, hair, etc.
posted by miss patrish at 5:38 PM on August 22, 2010

Maybe walk to your car under an umbrella? I usually do the stick thing but an umbrella would be slightly less ridiculous, I guess.
posted by anotherkate at 6:38 PM on August 22, 2010

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