One of Kansas City’s Most Damaging Insects is Back

Soon they will be making an appearance on a landscape near you. Now, beginning to hatch on trees throughout the Kansas City area, one of the most easily identified and destructive insects is the bagworm. This tree destroyer can be quite frustrating and annoying. They feed on both deciduous and evergreen trees, but it is the evergreens that primarily get destroyed. Protect the trees on your property from these devastating caterpillars by learning how to identify them and control them in our article below. bag worm

Description and Life Cycle of the Bagworm

The male bagworm is a small, gray, clear-winged moth that resembles a wasp. In the fall, they mate with the female.  Female bagworms live their entire lives inside their bags until they breed. After laying approximately 100 eggs inside the bag, the female dies. The tiny eggs stay inside throughout the winter and emerge in the spring, typically between mid-May and early June.

At this point, they are just a fraction of an inch long, but this is when they are the easiest to control. This is because once the larvae emerge, they make their own bag and carry it around with them, going from tree to tree. The tiny caterpillar feeds with its head and legs sticking out the top part of the bag.  They spin silk camouflaged with bits and pieces of the host tree around their entire bodies until it is big enough to cover them whole.

By the end of the summer, what starts as a one-quarter of an inch bag will grow to be almost two inches in length. This allows them to blend in with their surroundings making them harder to see. The silky bags are brown and hang from the branches of trees like Christmas tree ornaments. When on evergreens, they can be mistaken for pine cones.

Damage Invoked on Your Trees and Shrubs by Bagworms

On deciduous trees, bagworms chew small holes in the leaves, causing defoliation. Some of the deciduous trees they like to feast on include the black locust, crabapple, elm, honey, locust, linden, oak, sycamore, and maple. On evergreens, they feed on the buds and the foliage causing the branch tips to turn brown and die. This is more problematic on evergreens because needles are not fast to regrow, leaving the tree unable to photosynthesize and make food to survive. If the bagworms consume more than 80% of the tree, the entire evergreen will die. Evergreens that especially make a good home and meal for bagworms include:

  • Arborvitae
  • Bald cypress
  • Cedar
  • Fir
  • Juniper
  • Pine
  • Spruce

Bagworms also wrap the silk around the twigs they build their bags on, which could kill the tree twigs a few years from now.

Symptoms and Signs of Bagworm Damage

  • Missing needles
  • Brown, conelike bags hanging from branches
  • Dead branches
  • Brown spots on foliage bagworm eating leaves

Prevention and Control

Bagworms are difficult to control because they are often unnoticed until the bags are large enough to see. If you’ve had bagworms in the past or know how to identify them, inspect your trees and shrubs starting in May.  Although time-consuming and difficult, you can handpick each bagworm and destroy them. The silk threads that hold the bags together are strong, so we recommend using scissors. If this sounds gross and not your thing, the use of Bacillus thuringiensis is a relatively effective method, but it must be used when the bagworms are small. It’s extremely important to identify and eliminate the bagworms before they have sealed themselves back up for next winter. Insecticides become less effective as the season progresses due to the increased larva’s increased size and bag.

The Time To Treat Bagworms Is Now. Get the Bagworm Treatment, You Can Trust With Quality All-Care

We recommend inspecting and treating bagworms now before they reach 1/2 inch long at the end of August. Here at Quality All-Care, we have extensive experience with the frustration and devastation that bagworms can cause. We’ve seen firsthand the death and destruction these moths can cause to your beloved tree and shrubs and want to do whatever we can to stop this from happening to you. Contact us now and allow us to inspect and treat your evergreens for bagworms. Our bagworm treatments will help you avoid the expense of replacing trees while continuing to protect them. Visit our website today for more information, contact us here, or gives us a call at (913) 914-8895.

For other tips and ideas on all things lawn care, tree care, and pest control, check out all of our other blog articles. Have an idea for a blog article? Give us a call and let us know. We’re always looking for feedback on what our clients want to know.

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