How do you keep bagworms from coming back?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

To effectively prevent bagworms from coming back, it is important to take proactive measures and implement good gardening practices. Here are some detailed steps you can follow:

1. Inspect and monitor: Regularly inspect your trees and shrubs for any signs of bagworm infestation. Look for small bags hanging from branches, which are the cocoons of the bagworm larvae. Early detection is crucial for effective control.

2. Handpicking: If you notice bagworm cocoons on your plants, manually remove them by handpicking. This is most effective during the winter months when the larvae are dormant inside their bags. Simply prune off the bags and destroy them by burning or disposing of them in sealed bags.

3. Prune infested branches: If the infestation is severe, prune and remove heavily infested branches. Bagworms often start their feeding at the tips of branches, so removing these infested areas can help prevent the spread to other parts of the plant.

4. Maintain plant health: Healthy and vigorously growing plants are more resistant to bagworm infestations. Ensure your plants receive adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients. Regularly fertilize and mulch around the base to promote plant health and resilience.

5. Encourage natural predators: Attract birds and beneficial insects to your garden by providing bird feeders, water sources, and native plants. These natural predators, such as birds, wasps, and spiders, can help keep bagworm populations in check.

6. Proper yard maintenance: Keep your yard clean and tidy by removing fallen leaves, debris, and plant residues. Bagworms can overwinter in plant debris, so proper disposal can help prevent their reemergence in the following season.

7. Use insecticides: If bagworm infestations persist despite your efforts, insecticides can be used as a last resort. Choose an insecticide labeled for bagworm control and follow the instructions carefully. Apply the insecticide when the larvae are still young, usually in late spring or early summer. Be sure to target the affected plants thoroughly, including both upper and lower surfaces of leaves and stems.

8. Rotate insecticides: To prevent resistance buildup, it is advisable to rotate between different types of insecticides with different active ingredients. This can help prevent bagworms from developing resistance to a particular chemical.

9. Follow proper application techniques: When using insecticides, always wear protective clothing and follow the recommended safety precautions. Apply the insecticide during calm weather to prevent drift, and avoid spraying near water sources or edible plants.

10. Repeat treatments: Bagworm control may require multiple treatments over several years to fully eradicate the infestation. Regularly monitor your plants and promptly address any signs of bagworms to prevent reinfestation.

Remember, prevention and early intervention are key to keeping bagworms from coming back. By implementing these strategies and maintaining good garden practices, you can minimize the risk of bagworm infestations and protect the health of your plants.