Bagworms are worms found in trees and shrubs and can cause serious damage to vegetation. These worms live inside bags of silk and dust that resemble small garbage bags and are hard to spot until it’s too late. Knowing how to identify and remove these worms is important to protect your garden.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about bagworms and how to get rid of them effectively. From their life cycle to the best methods to eradicate them, here we will provide you with all the information you need to keep your garden harm-free.
1. What is bagworm?
The bagworm is a type of lepidopterous insect that inhabits trees and shrubs. There are several species of bagworms, but they all have in common that they build bags of silk and dust to protect themselves while feeding on leaves and twigs from trees. These worms are native to North America, but today they are found all over the world.
Most species of bagworms feed on the leaves and twigs of a variety of trees, including cedar, cypress, oak, and pine. As they grow, the worms add more material to their pouches to protect themselves from predators and the environment.
Unlike other types of worms, bagworms are especially troublesome because they can cause severe damage to vegetation. Left untreated, these worms can kill a tree or shrub in no time. Therefore, it is important to know how to identify them and how to get rid of them effectively.
1.1 Bagworm identification
Identifying bagworms is key to being able to eradicate them effectively. Here are some important details you need to know to identify these insects:
- Pouches: The most distinctive feature of bagworms are the pouches they construct from materials such as leaves, twigs, and dust. These bags can vary in size and shape, but generally resemble small garbage bags.
- Color: Bagworm pouches can be light green or brown in color, depending on the type of tree or shrub they inhabit. Some species have darker bags, while others have lighter bags.
- Size: The size of the sacs can vary depending on the stage of development of the worm, but they are generally a few centimeters long.
- Location: Bagworms are generally found at the top of trees and shrubs, although they can also inhabit lower twigs and leaves.
If you find bags in your yard that resemble the ones described above, you may be dealing with bagworms.
1.2 Bagworm life cycle pictures
The life cycle of bagworms is divided into several stages, each with a specific duration:
- Eggs: The life cycle begins with the eggs, which are laid by the females on the leaves and twigs of trees and shrubs. The eggs take a few days to hatch, depending on weather conditions.
- Larvae: Once the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed on leaves and twigs. These larvae are the bagworms in their initial form, and they spend most of their time building and adding material to their bags. The larval stage lasts a few weeks.
- Pupe: Once the larvae have reached a sufficient size, they stop feeding and begin to pupate. During this stage, the bagworms are completely inside their pouches, and do not feed. The pupal stage lasts a few days.
- Adults: Eventually, the bagworms hatch from their pouches as adults. The females lay eggs to start the life cycle anew, while the males fly in search of females to mate with. The adult life of bagworms lasts a few days.
It is important to note that the life cycle of bagworms can vary depending on weather conditions, but generally lasts a few months. To eradicate them effectively, it is important to know their life cycle and act accordingly.
1.3 Are bagworms invasive and bad?
Yes, bagworms are considered invasive and can be harmful to certain plants and trees. These worms feed on the leaves and twigs of a wide variety of tree and shrub species. Also can cause significant damage in a short period of time.
In addition, bagworms can also carry diseases and secondary pests, such as spider mites, aphids, and ants, which can further damage plants. When bagworm populations are very dense, they can completely defoliate a tree or shrub, which can be detrimental to its long-term health.
2. How to get rid of bagworms
There are several ways to control and eradicate a bagworm infestation in a garden or orchard. Some of the best strategies include:
- Insecticide Application: There are different types of insecticides specifically designed to control bagworms, such as bacillus thuringiensis-based insecticides or contact insecticides. It is important to follow label instructions when applying the insecticide, and be sure to completely cover the leaves and twigs of affected plants.
- Using Traps: Glue traps can be placed on the twigs of affected plants to trap and kill the bagworms.
- Home Spray Application: A soap and water based home spray can be prepared, which will help kill the bagworms by dehydrating their bodies.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the above methods for controlling bagworm pests.
2.1 Insecticide for bagworms
As for the best insecticides to kill bagworms, some of the most effective include:
- Bacillus thuringiensis: This biological insecticide is effective in controlling bagworms and is safe for the environment.
- Essential oils: Some essential oils, such as neem oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil, have insecticidal properties and can be effective in killing bagworms.
Always keep in mind to consult with experts when using any type of insecticide.
2.2 Bagworm homemade spray
There are several home sprays that can be used to control bagworm infestations. Here are some options:
- Insecticidal Soap Spray: Mix 2-3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap with 1 gallon of warm water. Shake well and spray on affected leaves and bags. Repeat every 7-10 days until the pest is gone.
- Garlic-Pepper Spray: Mix 4 minced garlic cloves with 1 cup minced pepper and 2 cups of water. Let stand for 24 hours, then strain and add 2 more cups of water. Spray on affected leaves and bags.
- Mineral Oil Spray: Mix 1 part mineral oil with 1 part water and shake well. Add a little dish soap to help the mixture stick to the sheets and bags. Spray on affected leaves and bags at night to avoid damaging direct sunlight.
It is important to follow safety recommendations and apply homemade sprays on a windless day to avoid damaging other plants or animal species. Also, it is important to repeat the treatment regularly until the pest is controlled.
2.3 Bagworm traps
Bagworm traps work by attracting worms to them with the use of pheromones, which are chemicals that worms use to attract mates. The traps are placed near the affected plants and the worms attach to them instead of damaging the plants.
Some of the most effective traps include:
- Adhesive Band Trap: These traps consist of an adhesive band that is placed around the trunks of the plants. The worms stick to the band instead of the leaves.
- Paper Trap: These traps consist of a piece of paper or cardboard that is placed near the affected plants. The worms stick to the paper instead of the leaves.
- Pheromone Trap: These traps contain synthetic pheromones that attract worms. These traps are sold at garden stores and must be replaced regularly to remain effective.
Always keep in mind to follow the instructions for use of each trap to ensure its correct operation. Also, it is important to regularly check the traps and remove any captured worms to prevent them from becoming a food source for other insects or animals.
3. How to prevent bagworms
To prevent a bagworm attack or infestation, it is important to follow these measures:
- Maintaining a well-cared for garden or orchard: Making sure to keep plants strong and healthy, with proper watering and regular fertilization, can help prevent a bagworm attack.
- Conduct a regular inspection: Regularly checking plants for any signs of bagworms, such as pockets on leaves or branches, can help catch a pest early and take action before it does significant damage.
- Control wintering hosts: Destroying bagworm winter refuges. Such as cocoons on branches or dry leaves on the ground, can help reduce the worm population.
- Using physical barriers: Placing physical barriers around affected plants, such as protective mesh or newspaper, can help prevent the worms from gaining access to the plants.
- Choose resistant plants: Planting plant species that are resistant to bagworms. Such as cedar, eucalyptus, fir, pine, and cypress, can help reduce the risk of an infestation.
Keep in mind that bagworms are more common in areas with hot, humid climates. So additional steps may be necessary to prevent an infestation in these areas.