The neat thing is that my year was pretty calendar driven. This means that I was not creating the 4-H activities as much because you already knew competition days and that you would be going to offer certain camps and retreats. Life as an ANR agent is a little different, but many things can still be seasonal such as the bagworm.
Today, I will share information from the UGA Center for Urban Agriculture on this pest that was revised by Randy Drinkard, retired UGA County Agent from M.F. Potter and L.H. Townsend, University of Kentucky Entomologists.
I call the bagworm sneaky because when most homeowners realize they have a bagworm problem, they have been around a while. Many times, this is way past the ideal time to chemically control.
When you start getting into later summer and into the fall, the best option is to hand remove the attached spindle or coned shaped bags from the landscape item. First, let’s go back and discuss what bagworms are and what to be on the lookout for in the landscape.
Bagworms are caterpillars that will make spindle or coned shaped bags on a variety of items. They can feed on deciduous and evergreen items.
My phone calls seems to be on more evergreens. They do seem to like juniper, arborvitae, spruces, pine and cedars. I have seen them on Italian cypress just recently with about 100 plus bags on one particular tree.
If an infestation goes unnoticed and the item is stripped of most of the foliage then the bagworms could aid in the death of a landscape item. Bagworms go unnoticed because folks will see the bags as something growing normally on the tree. By the time the worms start attaching to the ornament, the bag is very good protection for the pest. In fact, they can be tough to remove from the tree or even tough to tear into for find the bagworm itself.
The life cycle is real cool. As a starting point, the bagworms hatch from the previous year’s bag that was left by their mother. This happens normally in May. The young larvae will come out of the bag and start looking to feed. At an early age, they will start with silk and plant material and make a small bag around their hind part. The small bag will look like an upright ice cream cone according to information.
As the larvae gets bigger, the bag gets bigger with parts of what the larvae are feeding on. When disturbed, the larvae will go into the bag for protection. The bags can get up to 2 inches in length and by early fall the bagworm will attach the bag permanently to the landscape item. At this time, the bagworm will pupate and turn into the adult.
The bagworms I recently saw seemed to already be starting to permanently attach. Adults will emerge in early fall as moths. The females are more grub-like because they lack wings.
The male that does fly will be attracted to the female by pheromones. The male will mate with the female in the protective bag. The female will then lay hundreds of eggs inside her pupal casing in the bag and then she will die.
The eggs will stay in the attached bag till the next spring, hatch and start the process all over again.
Bagworm control options are few and does depends on timing too. Hand removal of the bags gets to be your best option the later you go. The best time to use an insecticide is when the larvae are small and easier to control. June would be a good time for insecticide options. You would need to start inspecting for the bagworms early in the summer and spray when and if needed. ]
The good thing about hand picking the bags later in summer when the bags have attached is that feeding damage is basically done. You really have till up till the next hatching time to get them removed.
Spraying options on young larvae could be some of the Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt products or malathion labeled for bagworms.
Just make sure you read label of any product for safety and proper use. For more information contact Gordon County Extension at 706-629-8685 or email email@example.com.