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Bagworms are caterpillars that molt into moths. They are typically identified by the
bags they construct as they feed. Bagworm larvae enclose themselves in cone-shaped
bags and partially emerge to consume foliage.
This insect is seldom seen, except for the head of the larva protruding from the bag.
Larvae are mottled brown to black and enclose themselves in bags spun from silk strands.
Bits of leaves and twigs from the host plant are incorporated into the bag during
its creation as camouflage. During June, bags are difficult to see, since these newly
formed bags are less than 1/4" in length. Bags increase to 1 1/2" in length by late
They are a serious pest, capable of rapid buildup and extensive defoliation. Annual
surveys during fall, winter, or early spring are important to detect infested plants
before serious damage results.
Plants attacked by bagworms include evergreens such as juniper, arborvitae, cedars,
cypress, pine, hemlock, and spruce. Broadleaved plants that may be attacked include
apple, basswood, black locust, boxelder, elm, honey locust, Indian hawthorn, maple,
various oaks, persimmon, sumac, sycamore, wild cherry, willow and azalea.
Infested plants suffer an increasing degree of leaf damage/defoliation from June to
late July and August. Stripping of leaves is usually most noticeable in the uppermost
parts of trees and shrubbery. Also associated with an infestation of bagworms is the
presence of many spindle-shaped bags up to 1 1/2" in length from late summer to spring.
Handpicking bagworms off the plants is the cheapest way to control them. Picking off
and burning or destroying bags from fall until spring will reduce populations, but
The presence of bags during winter is a good indication of which plants need to be
treated the following year. There is only one generation per year. Eggs in bags thrown
on the ground will hatch in the spring and develop into larvae that could reinfest
Chemical control is not as effective when the caterpillars close their bags to molt
or pupate. In most areas, insecticides applied in April, May and June are effective.
Small larvae are more susceptible to insecticides. Larger larvae and molting larvae
are not easily killed. Insecticides with some residual are preferred.
Recommended insecticides for homeowners include
*All chemical information provided is given with the understanding that no endorsement
of named products is intended, nor is criticism implied of similar products that are
not mentioned. Individuals who use pesticides are responsible for ensuring that the
intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label.
Before purchasing or using any pesticide, always read and carefully follow the label
For more information contact your local county agent.