Fall definitely appears to be in full swing in North Carolina! The leaves are showing their beautiful colors and the weather is starting to get chilly. We can finally start putting the yard chores to rest until spring…. whew! But there’s one more job to complete before calling it quits. If you live in an area that usually sees cankerworm damage, it’s time to band your trees for protection from defoliation next spring.
Cankerworms are the cute little green worms that commonly land on the deck and sometimes your clothes when your outside. They are also seen dangling from the trees by a silken strand. Most people refer to them as inch worms because of the way the crawl with their back arched up in the air.
Right now, the wingless female moths are beginning to make their climb from the ground to the tops of the trees to lay their eggs. These eggs hatch in the spring when trees are starting to grow leaves. Severe infestations of larvae can lead to complete defoliation, reduced growth and sometimes death for a tree. This isn’t the view you want to see in the spring when all the trees are turning green and its finally time to enjoy the warm weather.
Luckily, protecting your trees is simple and fairly cheap. First, purchase a roll of duct tape or paper tree wrap and Tanglefoot (a super-sticky compound) from your local hardware store. Second, wrap each tree in your yard and secure it with tape or a staple gun. Make sure the sticky side is facing out! Apply Tanglefoot to the paper if that’s what you purchased. Third, if there are any gaps under the paper or duct tape use insulation or cottonballs to prevent the moths from crawling under the band. In areas where cankerworms tend to have high populations, the bands may need to be replaced if they get full.
Encourage your neighbors to put sticky bands out as well, the cankerworms won’t let property lines keep them away from a good meal.
Providing a strong line, or band, of defense this fall helps ensure your trees are protected from these forest pests and you can sit back and relax under the shade trees this spring. What better gift can you give yourself this fall?