Bagworms Are Here So Beware!


Well, it is that time of year, which you have been nervously anticipating—dealing with that insect pest called the bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis. Yes, bagworms are out-and-about feeding on different trees and shrubs. So, what can you use to minimize the damage caused by bagworm caterpillars? Well, a number of insecticides labeled for control or suppression of bagworms include acephate (Orthene), Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. kurstaki (Dipel, Thuricide), cyfluthrin (Tempo), trichlorfon (Dylox), indoxacarb (Provaunt), chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn), and spinosad (Conserve). Some of these active ingredients are often available and sold under different trade names. Furthermore, several of these materials may not be available to homeowners. Insecticide applications are most effective on the young caterpillars. Older caterpillars in the bags may be 3/4 inch long and are more difficult to control or obtain sufficient mortality. Furthermore, females tend to feed less as they prepare for reproduction, which reduces their susceptibility to insecticide sprays and any residues. The bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis is highly active on young caterpillars; however, the material must be ingested to be effective, so thorough coverage of all plant parts is essential. Spinosad (Conserve) works by contact and ingestion, and is extremely effective in suppressing bagworm populations. Cyfluthrin (Tempo), trichlorfon (Dylox), and indoxacarb (Provaunt) are typically used against the larger caterpillars. Again, thorough coverage of all plant parts is essential, especially the tops of trees and shrubs, where bagworms commonly initiate feeding.

Articles reprinted from the K-State Research & Extension Horticulture Newsletter

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