Bagworms are moths that feed on the leaves of plants, trees, fruits, and shrubs in their larvae stage. The pest has tiny legs and carries a diamond-shaped bag on arborvitae. They go inside to evolve to the next stage.
The bag is about ⅛ inches long and they carry it on its back. Bagworms keep feeding freely along with this bag and go inside to evolve. The bag gets bigger during the summer season for growing caterpillars to thrive.
Here, you’ll learn how to identify and get rid of bagworms. This peaky pest can make damage your growing perennial plant, flowers, and fruit trees.
Bag Worms Life cycle
Before knowing how to get rid of bagworms; first, we have to understand their life cycle because there are different treatment methods for different stages. The method that can destroy eggs will not be effective on adult worms. If that’s clear let’s start.
- The adult bagworms lay eggs in early June which mature from August to early September.
- Then eggs hatch, and larvae come out, their 1 – 2 inches long bags get permanently attached to the stem or branch with silk threads.
- In the late summer, these larvae go inside and transform into moths.
- When the cocoon breaks two types of moths come out. A one with wing and without a wing. Winged moths are male moths that fly instantly after hatching on female (wingless moth) eggs and mate inside the egg or bag itself.
- The female moth lays about 200 to 1,000 eggs inside the bag and dies.
- These eggs remain in the bag, till spring and hatch.
- Fortunately bagworms damage trees and plants only when present in larger numbers.
- The trees or plants get heavily infested with bagworms either wither away or die.
- However, if you control them in an early stage they will not be able to multiply.
- Bagworm in its early stage- larvae or caterpillar does much damage to plants.
- The bagworms are small in size and can only be visible when present in large numbers.
- It attracts any plant or tree. Only deciduous plants are able to survive their onslaught, as they grow new foliage at every end of the season.
- Plants that do not grow foliage frequently or multiple times in a year are not able to survive bagworm attacks.
How to get rid of Bagworms
Handpick bagworms to get rid of them. Collect them all in a sealed packet and throw them in the trash. If you do not pack bagworms in airtight containers larvae will live.
Identifying bagworms is very difficult, its shack looks like a pine cone. Look first through pinecones to spot variation.
If your plant starts turning brown then the bagworms might already start damaging the plant.
You have to quickly wipe them out so that they do not destroy the whole plant.
There is a bacterial name Bacillus thuringiensis commonly called BT, this bacteria only kill specific insects and does not harm humans and plants. You can apply this to the plant from early June to mid-April before the bagworm eggs hatch. This biological control bacterial can be brought from garden stores or local hardware stores. You do not need to have special protective equipment to spray BT.
You can also deter bagworms by planting daisy plants around your trees and plants. In a study by the University of Illinois, it is found that planting daisy plant attracts many beneficial insects that predate small worms. These beneficial insects will destroy or kill bagworms, no matter to heavily they are infested.
You can buy predator insects online like wasps to predate bagworms. These insects do not harm plants and humans. However, too many of them are a concern.