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Bagworms and Your Landscape

You may have noticed small, brown, cocoon-like bags hanging from your evergreens lately. These cocoons will not turn into the beautiful butterflies you are expecting! These bags house bagworms: a type of insect that feeds on and destroys plants in your landscape. Without proper treatment, bagworms can cause irreversible damage and the eventual death of your plants.

Life Cycle

Bagworm eggs begin to hatch at the end of May or beginning of June. The larva uses its silk to hang from trees and can be transported by the wind to other plants. When the larva finds a sufficient host plant, it creates a bag to live in. It will feed on its host plant by sticking only its head out of the bag, making the worm itself difficult to see. Once the bagworm eats for a few months, it reaches maturity and mates. Male bagworms are dark, hairy, and have small, transparent wings. Female bagworms are smaller, yellow, maggot-like worms that never leave their protective bag. Once the bagworm mates, it dies shortly after.

Damage

Depending on the type of plant, bagworms can do serious damage, including the affected plant’s death.

Evergreens: Bagworms will eat the foliage and the buds of evergreens. This causes the branch tips to turn brown and die. Bagworms can cause the death of the entire evergreen if left untreated.

Deciduous plants: Bagworms will chew small holes into the leaves of deciduous plants, causing defoliation. Even if damage is extensive, deciduous plants may survive bagworms.

Treatment

Professional Treatment

Wasson Nursery offers Bagworm treatment through our Tree and Shrub program. Fill out this form to schedule a visit or call our Union City office at 765-964-3477.

At Home Solutions

Bagworms can be difficult to treat because they can only be killed while they are out of their bag. The only time they emerge is when they poke their heads out to eat. To chemically treat bagworms, Sevin or Malathion can be used. When these chemicals are ingested by the bagworm, they will return to their bag and die. Chemicals should not be used during the heat of the day as this will strip the plant of moisture when it needs it the most. Instead, spray your chemicals during cooler times like the morning or night.

Bagworms can also be treated without the use of chemicals. They can be cut or pulled off of the plants they have infested. The best way to dispose of bagworms is to burn them after removal.

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