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BAGWORMS  Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis
Evergreen Bagworm

Bagworms can be serious pest, especially in landscapes. Beginning in late May through
mid-June, larvae of this native moth feed on arborvitae, junipers, pines, spruces and many other trees. Larvae built loose silken bags which covers their entire bodies. Bags are camouflaged with pieces of plant material and may be mistaken for natural parts of the tree host. Females do not look like moths (no wings, antennae, eyes, or mouth parts and tiny useless legs) and remain in the silken bags throughout their entire life cycle. When larvae are fully grown, their protective bag is 1 - 1.5 inches long. The male, black and hairy with clear wings that span approximately one inch, emerge from their sack after pupation.

Bagworm -Red Maple tree


A single bagworm does relatively little damage. Yet because females do not fly, populations are often very dense: and excessive defoliation may kill conifers within one or two seasons. Damage in most noticeable on ornamental plantings rather that in forests and woodlands.

Populations vary, but occasionally become extremely abundant, alarming homeowners. The winter is spent as eggs (500 - 1000) in the mother’s bag. They hatch in May and June, and the young worms drop from the bag on a silk thread and can be kited short distances  to other hosts plants by the wind. In August and September, male moths emerge from their bags to mate, living one or two days. 

Females, living four to nine days, do not leave the bag until the eggs are laid. Before the young worm feeds it secretes silk and forms a bag, which is fastened to the plant by silk manufactured whenever the worm rests or molts. Bits of plant material become enmeshed in this bag when the worm feeds and the bag also enlarges as the worm grows. 

Control: Where practical, bagworms can be removed with scissors. Bagworms are parasitized by several ichneumonid and chalcid wasp (the wasp lay their egg in or on the caterpillar which hatches into a larva that cosumes its host). Bird  predation on larvae are also limiting factors. Chemical control is effective, particularly in June and early July when the bags are small. Chemical insecticides containing aceptate(ORTHENE), (SEVIN) or my preference “B.t.” (bacillus Thuringiensis) which becomes toxic only to the bagworm when consumed by the bagworm.        

Disclaimer: These three articles on Cankerworm, Bagworms and Tent Caterpillars may contain pesticide recommendations that are subject to change at any time. These recommendations are provided only as a guide. It is always the pesticide applicator’s responsibility, by law, to read and follow all current label directions for the specific pesticide being used. If any information in these recommendations disagrees with the label, the recommendation must be disregarded. No endorsement is intended for products mentioned, nor is criticism meant for products not mentioned. The Writer assumes no liability resulting from the use of these recommendations.                 

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                     Jim Rediker - Nurseryman -  Arborist  - TDA Certified

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