Twig Tips by Jodie

Posted on July 15, 2016 by jo

It's in the Bag!!!

The bug, the worm, the nasty creature that is chewing on your evergreen....it's in the BAG!!!!  The BAGWORMS are here.  I tolda you back in May that they would come later in the summer, and now they are here and the phone calls are starting.  "My arborvitae are turning brown, first one, then the next...is it a disease?"  NO.  Look closer.  REALLY close.  You will see a lot of things that look like little brown pods, they almost look like part of the tree.  They are not! They are the bags made by the bagworm and you may even see them moving.  YUK.

This is the deal.  There were a bazillion little eggs inside that pod last year and you didn't notice it.  They hatched and now every one of the little larva is crawling around eating your evergreen (they LOVE arborvitae but will also attack juniper, spruce and even sometimes deciduous shrubs like burning bush). In the process it is making its own little bag and there will be eggs in that one that will hatch out NEXT year to finish off this evergreen and start on its neighbor.  UNLESS you pick them off in the spring and drown them in a bucket of soapy water OR we get a really cold winter and it kills them off.  Bagworms were not a problem here in northern Indiana because we used to have temps around -20 in the winter that took care of them, but our winters have been milder and they have survived.  Maybe your evergreen is too tall and has too many bags and there is no way to pick them off? Then what do you do?  You can spray them, but timing is crucial.  You must spray after they hatch in June but before they are protected in the safe little homes they are making around themselves.  That happens later in August so you have a window of opportunity right now.  There are a couple of environmentally-friendly products that won't harm beneficial insects, like Fertillome's Borer, Bagworm & Tent Caterpillar Spray which contains Spinosad, or there is a naturally-occuring bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis  that does a good job.  "Regular" pesticides like Sevin, Malathion and Permethrins all work pretty well also.  Purdue's extension bulleting about Bagworms has a pesticide list with recommended application rates.

Bagworms can be a serious problem unlike the tent caterpillars in the spring that just look bad but don't do serious damage.  Everybody calls those bagworms, but people, these little pod thingys are the REAL deal and you had better pay attention if you've got them or you will be removing a bunch of dead plants and calling me to come replace them.  That could get expensive...on second thought, don't spray, I would LOVE to plant new ones for you!!!

Off to hug my juniper (ouch!) to check it for bags - Jodie

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