Pest Identification: Webspinner
Most Common Types
Webspinners are of the order Embioptera, of which there are around 360 recognized species worldwide. They are called webspinners because they excel at spinning webs from silk secreted by glands in their forelegs called tarsi.
What They Look Like
The majority of webspinners are brown or black with some species appearing pinkish or reddish. They have slender bodies and range from 3/16th to ½ inch in length. The head has protruding mouthparts with chewing mandibles. Webspinners have enlarged front tarsi, and two short cerci, or jointed appendages at the tip of the abdomen. Wings are only present in males, females are wingless.
Where They Live
Webspinners are tropical and subtropical insects that live on every continent except Antarctica.
Where They Nest
Webspinners are the only insects with silk-producing glands in the forelegs. They use the silk to construct elaborate nests and tunnels under leaves and bark. Females eat grass, leaf litter, moss, lichens, and bark. Males do not eat—they only live long enough to breed. Webspinners rarely leave their tunnels; the colonies expand as webspinners enlarge their nests to find new food.
Steps to Prevent
Webspinners live in the wild. It is not necessary to control their population.
Are They Harmful?
Webspinners are not harmful to people, pets, structures, garden plants, or food crops.