How to get rid of bagworms on cypress trees


How to Get Rid of Bagworms

Photo: flickr.com via NY State IPM Program at Cornell University

Notice an inexplicable mass destruction, yellowing, or defoliation in your evergreens? A close and careful look through the branches might reveal the culprit in clever camouflage: bagworms.

These destructive insects attack many species of tree or bush but are most often found on conifers like juniper, pine, arborvitae, cyprus, cedar, and spruce. They’re called “bagworms” because after the larvae feed on plants and trees, they encase themselves in cocoon-like “bags” constructed from twigs, leaves, and self-spun silk.

Once in its bag, a female bagworm can lay 500 to 1,000 eggs, escalating your bagworm problem to a serious infestation fast. Each egg will hatch into another bagworm primed to defoliate whatever it’s near. The worst part? Your problem may go unnoticed until too late because these bags assume the appearance of conifer cones.

Should you find yourself with a bad case of bagworms, follow this thorough guide to get rid of them.

Tools & Materials
  • 5-gallon plastic bucket
  • Soap
  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Garden sprayer
  • Insecticide for bagworms

Photo: fotosearch.com

Get Rid of Bagworms By Handpicking

If you find just a few bagworms, you may have caught the infestation early enough that you can effectively control the situation by handpicking the bags off the plants and submerging them in a bucket of soapy water to suffocate the larvae.

This will work, however, only if the larvae haven’t yet left the bags to go out to feed. Hatching generally happens in late May to early June, so do your handpicking of bagworms from late fall to early spring.

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Remove Bagworms Through Biological Control

Sometimes it’s not feasible to handpick bagworms, particularly when you’re dealing with tall trees. But if you can harness the power of creatures that feed on bagworms, you may still be able to control your bagworm population.

  • Bacteria: Bt, the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, is effective at controlling bagworms if it’s applied as soon as the eggs hatch in the spring. Don’t wait too long—this bacteria won’t be as effective when the larvae have grown large. Follow the application instructions on the product you buy, and apply it with a garden sprayer. Follow up and reapply every seven to 10 days until the bagworms are gone.
  • Birds: Sparrows are predators of bagworms, so you may be able to keep the bagworm population down by attracting sparrows to your yard. To make your property more appealing for the birds, provide water at ground level (a low birdbath) as well as materials and places for nesting (thickets and trees). Sparrows also appreciate shelter to flit between, so brush piles and shrubbery can be assets, as can dusty areas for dust-bathing.

Or, Control Bagworms with Chemicals

An insecticide with malathion, diazinon, or carbaryl (such as Ortho Tree & Shrub Insect Killer, available on Amazon) can rid you of a bagworm problem if applied to bushes and trees when the worms are still young larvae. So, aim to spray in late spring, just after the bagworms have hatched and begun to feed, and always follow the insecticide manufacturer’s instructions.

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No matter where or what time of year you find bagworms, don’t wait to start formulating a plan to eradicate them. Left unchecked, they can completely defoliate and kill your yard’s trees, bushes, or hedges.

Photo: flickr.com via Dick Culbert

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Bagworms on Leyland Cypress | Home Guides

By Stephany Elsworth

Leyland cypresses (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) are sterile hybrids of Alaskan cedars (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis) and Monterey cypresses (Cupressus macrocarpa). They have a natural pyramidal form and produce feathery, deep green or blue-green foliage. Young trees are fast growing, and mature trees can reach heights of 100 feet. They are often planted as hedges and screens in the southeastern United States, and grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. Leyland cypress trees are susceptible to infestations by bagworms, which can cause significant damage or kill the trees.

Bagworm Identification

  1. Bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) are the larvae of moths. Newly hatched caterpillars are about 1/25 inch long, while mature caterpillars reach 2 inches. These pests have drab grayish bodies and dark head markings. The adult female remains larval in form and has a yellowish in color, with no eyes, mouthparts, antennae, legs or wings. Adult males are the only ones are able to fly. They have a 1-inch wingspan, with clear wings and dark bodies. Larval bagworms are most easily identified by the cone-shaped bags they carry with them as they feed. These sacs are made of insect silk and plant parts, so you may mistake them as part of the tree.

Life Cycle

  1. Adult female bagworms never leave their bags. In fall, they release a mating pheromone that attracts male moths. Females lay between 500 and 1,000 eggs inside their bags, and then fall to the ground and die. The eggs spend the winter inside the bags and hatch in early summer. The emerging larvae spin threads and allow the wind to blow them to different parts of the tree, or to other nearby plants. They create bags of their own and carry them with them as they feed, adding to their bags as they grow. They continue feeding and growing for approximately six weeks during the summer, and pupate for around four weeks at the end of summer before emerging as adults.

Feeding and Damage

  1. Newly hatched and small bagworms feed on the top surface of Leyland cypress's scalelike leaves, leaving brownish spots on the damaged areas. Older bagworms devour the entire leaf. The damage does not usually become apparent until late summer when the caterpillars mature, but by then Leyland cypress trees may suffer from extensive leaf loss. Trees with mild infestations may grow more slowly, while severely infested trees may die.

Biological Control

  1. Several predators feed on bagworm larvae. Two types of parasitic wasps attack the caterpillars and help keep their populations under control. Steinernema carpocapse, a type of nematode, is used as a form of biological control. Spray the nematodes into Leyland cypress trees before the females lay their eggs. The nematodes infest the females and prevent them from reproducing.

Mechanical Controls

  1. For a small tree or two, you can remove bagworms by hand. Pull the bags from the tree in late winter and spring before the eggs hatch. Place the bags in a bucket and leave them for a while to allow helpful parasites an opportunity to escape. Then, throw the bags away or destroy them.

Chemical Control

  1. Insecticides may help when infestations are too severe to be controlled through biological or mechanical means. Bacillus thuringiensis and spinosad work well on young bagworms, while trichlorfon and cyfluthrin are more effective on mature larvae. Apply the insecticide about two weeks before the eggs hatch, and make sure to cover all parts of the tree.

References

  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Christmas Tree Notes: Leyland Cypress
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Leyland Cypress
  • Clemson Cooperative Extension: Leyland Cypress Diseases & Insect Pests
  • North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension: Bagworms
  • PennState Woody Ornamental Integrated Pest Management: Bagworm Fact Sheet
  • University of Illinois Extension: Bagworms

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    Chestnut: planting with seedlings, care, pruning

    Chestnut is a very decorative and attractive plant. Several trees grow on my site at once: in addition to their wonderful appearance, they can still boast of delicious fruits. And how they bloom in spring! In the article I will talk about caring for chestnuts, I will give advice on planting it.

    Article content

    • Where to plant
    • When to plant
    • Soil preparation
    • Planting process
    • Care

      • in free, open space;
      • well lit;
      • protected from cold winds.

      Remember that the plant has a very powerful and branched root system, so there should be no other shrubs, trees, or buildings in close proximity to it. For normal development and good growth, a chestnut simply needs free space. From the nearest buildings, the distance to the seedling should be at least five meters.

      This plant is quite shade tolerant, but will flower better in good sunlight. Protection from the wind is important due to the fact that the trunk of a young plant can be deformed from strong gusts, and branches sometimes even break.

      When to plant

      Whatever variety your chestnut is, it is best to root in the spring. By the time of planting, the soil should already warm up thoroughly: chestnuts are not planted in cold soil.

      Autumn planting, although possible, is not recommended. The fact is that a young plant in winter can either freeze or be damaged by rodents.

      Soil preparation

      Chestnut should be planted in soil:

      • nutritious;
      • well loosened permeable;
      • with neutral or slightly acid reaction.

      It is important that the soil is well-drained, as stagnant moisture is harmful to the roots of the tree. Optimal composition: loam or black soil with a small proportion of lime.

      Chestnut should not be planted in dense soil consisting mainly of clay. First loosen the ground by adding river sand to it. Conversely, an overly loose substrate should be compacted by adding clay.

      Planting process

      Chestnuts aged 2-3 years are suitable for rooting, sometimes older ones take root. In general, a seedling up to 10 years old may well take root, but only in the spring.

      Procedure:

      1. A cubic pit is dug out with parameters of half a meter by half a meter and the same depth.
      2. A layer of drainage or gravel and sand is laid on the bottom. The thickness of this protective layer must be 30 cm.
      3. A nutrient soil mixture consisting of soil, humus, dolomite flour or lime is laid on the drainage.
      4. The seedling is dug into the ground without deepening the measles neck.
      5. After planting, the tree is watered using 3-4 buckets of water.
      6. To prevent the plant from falling from the wind, it is tied to strong supports.

      When the chestnut roots are strong enough, the props can be removed.

      Care

      Let's get acquainted with the main points of caring for a chestnut tree.

      Weeding

      Very important procedure for young plants. Weeding should be combined with not too deep loosening of the topsoil. This ensures the permeability of the earth, the roots will "breathe".

      Top dressing

      Chestnut cultivation is supposed to be fertilized once a year. Carry out top dressing every spring, at the very beginning of the season.

      The following components are taken:

      • ammonium nitrate - 20 gr;
      • manure - 1 kg;
      • urea - 15-20 gr;
      • superphosphate - 15 gr;
      • potassium salt - 10 gr.

      All ingredients should be mixed and diluted with water. Top dressing is applied in liquid form.

      In addition to minerals, you can feed chestnut and organic matter:

      • rotted manure;
      • green herbal infusions;
      • compost;
      • humus.

      Mulching

      To keep the chestnut roots supplied with moisture and nutrients longer, it is recommended to mulch the soil under the tree. The following organic ingredients are best used as mulch:

      • peat;
      • sawdust;
      • peat with compost;
      • wood chips.

      The layer of mulch should be 10 cm: it will protect both from moisture evaporation and from weeds.

      Watering

      At a young age chestnuts especially need watering. Its roots are not yet developed enough to extract moisture on their own. And, in principle, chestnut is a moisture-loving plant: water an adult tree during a drought period.

      Pruning

      The crown of the chestnut must be lush, spreading and powerful. To help the plant form such a crown, in the spring the tree needs to be cut.

      The scheme is as follows:

      • the upper branches are shortened by a quarter of the length;
      • last year's side shoots are not pruned.

      The shaping pruning procedure is repeated annually until the chestnut reaches the desired height and its crown is the desired one.

      In the future, forming pruning is not performed, but in case of thickening, branches growing deep into the crown are removed. Also, no one has canceled sanitary pruning: this procedure is designed to rid the plant of old branches, dried up, sick.

      Important: after pruning, be sure to cover the cuts with garden pitch to avoid infection of the tree.

      Wintering

      In principle, adult chestnut is quite resistant to frost. And, of course, they don't hide it. But in the first 2-3 years after planting, a young plant should be protected: cover it for the winter with cardboard boxes.

      Root protection also helps. For this purpose, the trunk circle is mulched with compost, forming a layer 20 cm thick. It is recommended to wrap the lower part of the trunk with burlap, which will protect it from rodents.

      Prevention

      When caring for chestnuts, one should not forget about preventive measures aimed at combating infections and harmful insects. Although rare, sometimes the plant is exposed to diseases and pests.

      Fungus

      If you notice suspicious dark spots on chestnut leaves, most likely the plant has been attacked by a fungus. More often than others, infections such as anthracnose and powdery mildew affect the plant. Appropriate fungicides will help to cope with the problem: Fundazol, Bordeaux liquid, etc.

      Pests

      The most dangerous insects for chestnuts are:

      • Japanese beetles;
      • bags;
      • drillers.

      In order to cope with pests, it is necessary to use agents like the well-known Karbofos as prevention and therapy.

      Chestnut moth

      This pest, though less common in chestnuts, is much more dangerous. The insect is also called the Balkan moth. The pest was discovered not so long ago, but has already managed to spread over most of Europe.

      Moth causes serious damage to chestnut plantings. The insect leads to: abscission, yellowing, drying of foliage. And due to the fact that the defeat usually happens at the beginning of the season, new foliage grows by autumn. This leads to the fact that in winter the chestnut leaves weak, often freezes.

      As a therapeutic and preventive measure against moths, special chemicals are used, which are injected into the trunk of a tree in the form of injections.

      An effective preventive measure against the Balkan moth is the harvesting and burning of fallen leaves in autumn. It is in the fallen leaves that the pest larvae hibernate.

      Other problems

      Not only diseases lead to the loss of chestnut health and visual appeal. The plant is also endangered by:

      • severe drought;
      • gusts of wind.

      These natural phenomena sometimes lead to the drying of leaves, chestnut shoots, their twisting, falling off. To avoid such problems, when planting a chestnut, carefully consider the place and protection from the wind and sun.

      Reproduction

      Chestnut can be propagated both by seeds (nuts) and cuttings. The first method is longer and more complicated, so gardeners usually prefer cuttings. Well, or just buy ready-made seedlings in the nursery. Let us briefly get acquainted with the features of cuttings and seed propagation of chestnuts.

      Cuttings

      Planting material, ie cuttings, is prepared in autumn. By the time of harvesting, the bark and wood of the mother plant should be sufficiently mature, and the buds should be formed. Cuttings are cut 20-30 cm long: each of them must have at least 5-7 buds. In winter, the cuttings are stored in boxes with sand and rooted in the spring.

      Seeds

      In order for a nut to hatch, it must be fully ripe: green or vice versa, rotten specimens will not fit exactly. Take those seeds that fell to the ground on their own: they are guaranteed to ripen. But it is important that the peel of the nuts remains intact, intact, otherwise rotting is likely.

      Nuts can germinate only after stratification: the procedure must be carried out naturally, in a pile of fallen leaves. In such a heap, the nuts must overwinter in order to harden, absorb moisture and then sprout safely in the spring.

      But this is in natural conditions. In our case, we are talking about artificial, cultural reproduction, therefore stratification is usually carried out artificially. For this purpose, nuts are harvested at the end of autumn and soaked in water for five days, periodically changing it.

      The procedure softens the shell of the nuts, making it easier for them to germinate later. After stratification, the fruits are planted in a box or on a bed to a depth of 10 cm. They are insulated with dry foliage on top of the planting. Chestnuts should winter in the ground on the street: in the spring, many of the planted nuts will sprout.

      Conclusion

      We have learned how to plant a chestnut tree and how to take care of this tree.


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