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Tree Talk - Metropolitan Forestry Services

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May 15, 2021

Bagworm Explosion

Bagworm populations have increased tremendously in the last few years due to the unseasonably warm weather in late spring and early summer.  May 2018 was especially early, with the temperatures reaching 85° or more a full 2-3 weeks early.  This caused the bagworms to hatch in large numbers much earlier than expected.  Most of our clients weren’t aware of the problem until it was too late, and the damage was done.  Bagworms are only an 1/8 of an inch when hatched and well camouflaged.  The higher populations of 2018 continued into 2019, so it’s extremely important to monitor your trees going into 2020 as well.  If you or your neighbors found these little devils on your trees, you will want to be proactive in the springtime to protect your trees.

Hardest hit were the arborvitaes, followed by junipers and spruce.  Bagworms are easily controlled if sprayed when small but are much harder to control when mature.  Remember to pick off all the teardrop shaped bags that you can see.  Leaving just one female bagworm on your plant can generate 150-350 offspring the following year.  Bagworms can do quick and lasting damage to a hedge or screen of evergreens in just 24 hours. Plants with light to moderate damage have a better chance of survival with deep root fertilization and supplemental watering.  Severely damaged plants will have to be replaced.

Bagworm damage on an evergreen
damage due to bagworm infestation – John C. French Sr., Retired, Universities:Auburn, GA, Clemson and U of MO

If you have had damage or suspect a problem, please give our arborists a call and we’d be happy to assist!

Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden for more about Bagworms!

bagworm sac cut open to view eggs
bagworm eggs – James B. Hanson, USDA Forest Service
Bagworm on a spruce
William Fountain, University of Kentucky

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