How to Get Rid of Bagworms From Your Yard: 8 Ways



A bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) infestation in your trees or shrubs can lead to damaged or even dead plants. These destructive pests are actually caterpillars, representing the larval stage of bagworm moths. The caterpillars construct protective cases (cocoons) made from sand, soil, silk, and other plant materials that they attach to trees, plants, rocks, or other exterior structures while they go through metamorphosis.

Native to North America, bagworms are commonly found in the eastern half of the United States. They feed on the leaves of evergreen hosts such as juniper, spruce, cypress, arborvitae, and pine, as well as deciduous trees such as apple, birch, maple, oak, elm, and others.

Signs of a Bagworm Infestation

Before starting a treatment method, it’s important you first identify that bagworms are indeed your problem. Heres are some key things to look for:

  • Missing needles from a tree’s new growth
  • Dead or dying leaves and branches
  • Brown, cone-like bags approximately two-inches in length that hang from branches
  • Brown spots on tree or shrub foliage

Zen Rial / Getty Images

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8 Ways to Get Rid of Bagworms

Once you confirm that you are dealing with bagworm activity in your yard, it’s time to pick a treatment to get rid of them, The method you choose will depend on the severity of the infestation, the surrounding landscape, and other factors.

The best time to get rid of bagworms is from late fall to early spring, as the bagworms begin hatching in late spring from May to early June.

Handpick the Bagworms Off

If you only find a few bagworm cocoons on your plants, you likely caught the problem early enough to simply handpick them off. To control the situation from escalating, pick the bags off by hand and drop them into soapy water to suffocate and kill the larvae.

Cut Off Dead and Infested Branches

To keep a bagworm infestation from spreading to other parts of a tree or shrub, cut off the infested branches. To ensure the bagworms cannot survive, always burn the debris or seal it into an airtight bag.

To prevent a bagworm infestation, it’s important to regularly remove and clear excess leaves, twigs, pine cones and other plant debris, giving bagworms fewer places to attach their cocoons to.

Apply Neem Oil

Neem oil is a natural and organic solution used to eliminate pests such as aphids, spider mites, and bagworms. It typically comes as a concentrate. Mix the neem oil with a mild dish soap and water, and spray the solution onto affected plants.

Spray an Insecticide

If the host plant is heavily infested, considering turning to chemical control to get rid of bagworms. An effective DIY treatment is spraying the insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis (commonly known as Bt), which is a bacteria spray that kills bagworms as soon as the eggs hatch but is harmless to pets and children. Another option is spinosad, a natural product created from soil bacteria that is fermented. For the best results, follow the product’s instructions closely.

Create an Environment That Attracts Bagworm Predators

One way to naturally take care of an unwanted pest is to attract its predators to get rid of them for you. Sparrows, for example, are a common bagworm predator. To lure more sparrows to your yard, consider adding a birdbath that is low to the ground, and spreading sunflower seeds, cracked corn, millet, and safflower seeds.

Plant Moth-Repelling Plants

To keep female bagworm moths from laying their eggs in or around your yard, add plant-repelling moths that naturally deter them. While a number of different plants may work, moths especially dislike the smell of aromatic herbs such as sage, tarragon, lavender, borage, and rosemary.

Release Parasitic Wasps

Parasitic wasps are beneficial insects that can be helpful in controlling a variety of pests, including getting rid of bagworms. When released near a bagworm infestation, trichogramma wasps will lay their eggs inside the eggs of bagworms, with the wasp larvae then feeding on baby bagworms and preventing the infestation altogether. They can be purchased at garden centers or online.

Turn Off Outdoor Lights

The fewer moths you invite into your yard, the fewer bagworms you’ll be left to deal with. Moths are attracted to lights, especially when it’s dark out. To keep bagworm moths away, remember to turn off your patio lights or put them on a motion sensor to automatically go out.

FAQ

  • Bagworms are attracted to evergreen trees such as juniper, spruce, cypress, arborvitae and pine, as well as deciduous trees such as apple, birch, maple, oak, elm, and others.

  • You want to spray for bagworms at the right time—when the eggs are hatching and the small larvae appear. The best time to spray for bagworms is in the spring from late May to early June.

  • Yes. The only time bagworms emerge from their bags is to eat at night.



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