DIY Cankerworm Sticky Bands: Time to remove them!

by | Mar 22, 2017

A surprise to us all, the groundhog was right this year, and winter came back to rear its ugly head once again! But warmer weather is already making its comeback, and this week marks the first week of spring. Many North Carolinians are already planning their landscaping projects to get the yard back in shape for the beautiful weather ahead. And one of those activities may be the removal of those not-so-aesthetically-pleasing sticky bands.

Sticky band around the trunk of a tree, covered with trapped moths. Image: William A. Carothers, USDA Forest Service,

While they may not be the most attractive landscape feature, they play a good functional role in managing cankerworm populations. Each year, homeowners battling this leaf-eating caterpillar are encouraged to install their own sticky bands on their yard trees. Bands are made of all kinds of material, from burlap to duct tape, then a sticky adhesive, such as Tanglefoot, is coated on top. As the flightless female moths emerge from the ground, they crawl up the trunk and get stuck in the adhesive before they’re able to lay eggs in the treetops. Bands are installed in late November or early December and taken down in the spring. This ensures that both the fall and spring emergence of cankerworms crawling up the tree trunk are ensnared!

Luckily, as we bid adieu to the cold weather, we can also bid adieu to the unsightly sticky bands. Ned Kennington, of Durham, bands and monitors his trees annually. He has not seen cankerworms on his sticky bands for at least two weeks now, meaning they are likely finished with their spring ascent.

So, add this to your list of yard chores, and relish your beautiful trees that won’t be attacked by cankerworms this year!