We spend so much of our time in our yards. A big part of that time is around the trees that we have in them. Ornamental trees are a staple in every beautifully landscaped property. But we have to take care of these ornamentals and keep pests from them to keep them alive and healthy. One of the main ornamental pests that we deal with is the bag worm. This little bag worm hides itself in the branches and feeds upon helpless ornamental trees until it sucks them dry and kills them. In this article, we will take a look at bag worms, their life cycle and how to eliminate bag worms from the trees in your yard.


Bag worms are named after the bag that they create out of silk and pieces of the tree that they’re hanging from. At the top of the bag there is an opening where the head of the caterpillar can stick out of it. This caterpillar feeds upon the tree as it hangs from it. It will take a piece of silk that it has woven and put it across that branch to hang from and anchor it.

These caterpillars don’t move far from the tree where they start. A bag will be filled with eggs and anywhere from 50 to 100 of them will hatch. The bottom of the bag will open up and each of these caterpillars will work its way out and then use its silk as a balloon to try to fly to the nearest tree. Bag worms much prefer evergreen trees over other kinds of trees, but they do feed on a number of trees that aren’t evergreen. 


Once they find the appropriate tree, they will start to gather twigs and needles from that tree in order to create the bag that it will spend the rest of his life in. It mixes them with silk and the bag is created. From here it will feed on the tree as it grows. Eventually, the males will develop into full grown moths. The females will stay in a caterpillar form for the entirety of their lives. They do grow some vestigial wing pads but they can’t fly. The female will put out a pheromone to let the males know that it is ready to mate. The male moth will fly to one of these bagworms and mate with a female. Once it has mated, the male will die.

The life of the male bag worm is quite short. Once the male has mated with a female, it will die. Usually the lifecycle of a male in its moth form is about two days. Once the female has mated, she will stop producing the pheromone. This stops any further males from coming and trying to mate with her. She will start to lay her eggs inside her bag. After she’s laid her eggs she will also die. These eggs will survive through the winter, and then emerge again in the spring starting the process all over again.


Eggs usually hatch sometime in the late spring and bag worms are in full affect usually by June or July. They will meet somewhere in the fall and start all over again. These insects will feed upon the tree until they’ve taken everything from it. Usually it takes a couple generations to overtake a tree, but once it happens the tree will die. These bugs don’t travel far from where they hatched even when they balloon away. And in some cases the young will not use silk to balloon away from a tree, they will simply crawl to a different spot. Your Broken Arrow pest control company will have more information for you.  


There are a couple ways of taking care of these insects. If you want to pull the bags off of the tree by hand, you can do that. You don’t wanna throw these on the ground, because they will crawl back to the tree and work their way back up. It’s important if you do this to either crush them in your hand or put them into a bag and throw them away. If you miss some of these bag worms, then you will continue to have the problem. Because of this, many times it’s impractical to try to simply pick all of these off of a large tree. If you have a lot of trees it also gets difficult. 

The next method that you can use are sprays. Sprays are quite effective, but it’s important that you get full coverage of the tree. If you missed the inside or one branch, these bag worms will find their way to the spot that you haven’t treated, and there they will thrive. 

The best way of dealing with bag worms, in my opinion, is to deal with them with injection. Injection is a form of pesticide application that uses the vascular system of the tree. Basically a hole is drilled at the base of a tree and an injection pod placed there. It’s put under pressure and then this forces the pesticide into the vascular system of the tree. From there the pesticide will work its way through every branch and every root. This gets complete coverage and therefore ensures that no bag worm survives. If you’re going to go with the spray or an injection system, it’s important to choose the right Tulsa pest control company for the job.


If you’re dealing with bag worms or any other pests that are attacking your trees, your yard or even your home then it’s time to call in a Broken Arrow pest control company that you can trust. TermMax pest control is the best Tulsa exterminator in the business. We service the greater Tulsa area including Coweta, Claremore, Catoosa, Sapulpa, Sand Springs, Owasso, Jenks, Bixby, Broken Arrow, Turley, Prattville and much more. Call today for a free estimate. We’re here to help!

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