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Horticulture and Home Pest News
Horticulture & Home Pest News is filled with articles on current horticulture, plant care, pest management, and common household pests written by Iowa State University Extension specialists in the Departments of Entomology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology.

When Is It Too Late To Treat For Bagworms?

This article was published originally on 8/24/2011

For many areas in southern Iowa ("bagworm territory"), it is now too late to treat for bagworms. If the caterpillars are no longer visible and feeding, if the bags are no longer moving, then it is too late to treat. When the caterpillars have tied the bag to the twig, sealed it shut they are pupating inside and no further feeding will occur. The photos below from Madison County Extension and Jeromoy Baumbach show the difference of what bagworm bags look like when the caterpillars are active, and what they look like after the caterpillars are done feeding and growing for the summer. Note the sealed end and the silken strap that connected the bag to the twig in the lower photo.
 
When the caterpillars are no longer feeding, the tree will not experience additional damage beyond what has already occurred, and most importantly, spraying after that point is a complete and counterproductive waste of time and money. Even if caterpillars are still visible, spraying this late in the season may not be effective. Trees should be protected from bagworm defoliation by spraying in late-June to mid-July. 
 
 
Bagworm with caterpillar exposed.   Photo by Jeromy Baumbach.Bagworm with caterpillar exposed. Photo by Jeromy Baumbach.
Bagworm bags after caterpillars are finished feeding.  Photo by Molly Allen.Bagworm bags after caterpillars are finished feeding. Photo by Molly Allen.