EXTENSION CONNECTION: Stop bagworms before they hatch

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 at 03:00 AM.

Northwest Florida doesn't have the highest concentration of the common bagworm, Thyridoptgeryx ephemeraeformis, but most plants bagworms feed on can be found here.

Common host trees include red cedar, live oak, maple, elm and pine. Other susceptible shrubs include Indian hawthorn, juniper, arborvitae, ligustrum and viburnum.

Finding a host

Bagworms overwinter as a clutch of 500-1,000 eggs wrapped in an infested plant's leaves. Larvae hatch in late spring as tiny caterpillars that disperse to surrounding plants, spinning a silken thread and “ballooning” on the wind.

Once established on a host plant, the young bagworms feed and construct a bag using pieces of twigs, leaves and silk.

Then, the female bagworm's head and thorax emerge from the foliage bag. She continually feeds on the plant, leaving it severely defoliated. As few as four bagworm larvae can cause a 4-foot arborvitae to be so damaged that it can’t ever grow enough foliage to return to normal appearance.


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