Bagworms
Bagworms are an excellent example of a destructive pest with an effective camouflage.  
Bagworms are moth larvae that spin baglike, thick structures around themselves.  These bags
look very much like pine cones.  That makes for a wonderful disguise because bagworms feast
on coniferous evergreen trees.   The bags are difficult to see when they are small, and they
are difficult to control when they become large and plentiful.  However, you can get rid of
bagworms if you know what to look for and when to look.
Bagworm Damage
The larvae feed on needles and leaves of affected trees and a bagworm infestation can
devour large swatches of foliage from coniferous (evergreen) trees.  Needles will turn brown
and drop.  Bagworms usually start at the top of a tree and work their way down.  You may
notice damage as early as the beginning of summer.  More damage will come in late
summer and early autumn.  Trees can be killed if action is not taken.  .  Deciduous trees are
also affected by bagworms, but damage is not as severe.  
You Can Get Rid of Bagworms
Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to get rid of bagworms.  Pesticides will work if you see indications of bagworms
in early summer.  This is not the easiest thing to do because they are very small.   Once bagworms become large
enough to see, a large infestation can do serious damage and pesticides are ineffective.  At that point, it is best to
spray products containing Bt.  But the best way to get rid of bagworms is to manually pick or cut them out of the
trees, and then drown them.  You may be in for some back-breaking, time-consuming insect control in your fight
against bagworms.  Good luck!
Hard Work
If you do not control bagworms until you see the bags and the damage, there is only one
way to completely assure yourself that you will get rid of the bagworms.  You may not like it,
and it may not be easy, but you will have to physically pull or cut the bagworms off the tree
by hand.    Consider yourself lucky if the bags count only in the dozens.  However, hundreds or
even thousands of bagworms can easily infest a series of three or four trees.  After you yank
them off the tree (sometimes it’s hard to pull them off), place them in plastic bags and drown
them in water.  Do not throw the bags on the ground because the larvae will come out and
climb up the tree again.  A successful bag-purge may take hours or days to accomplish
Pesticides should be used if you detect bagworms in
late-spring or early summer.  If you wait much longer,
the larvae will be too mature and their cocoons will
be too tough for pesticides to work.  Permethrin and
acephate based products are fairly useful in getting
rid of bagworms.  They are sprayed on the tree and
will kill the emergent caterpillar when it emerges
from the cocoon and starts to feed.  Keep in mind
that these products will only be effective when the
larvae are feeding.  As with any pesticide, extreme
care should be used because the toxins can be
harmful to humans and beneficial animals.  
Get Rid of Bagworms        
Bt
Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, is an
organic bateria that naturally occurs in
the soil that is deadly to all catepillars,
including the ones in bagworms.  It is sold
in many products that can be sprayed
onto trees.  This is especially helpful when
bagworms are so high up that they can
not be manually eradicated.  Bt will kill
the larvae after they have eaten sprayed
leaves.  Bt is completely safe to humans
and pets.
Bagworm Infestation
Pesticides
Bagworm treatments are only effective
if they are administered properly.  
Chemicals and pesticides are most
effective in early spring before bagworms
are visible.  Pesticides hope to kill the
larvae before they do any damage.  Bt
products are only effective when
bagworms are eating.  They should be
applied when the bagworms are too big
for pesticides to work.  Some damage will
be done by the feasting larvae before Bt
can work.
Timing is Everything
Planting daisies and asters in your garden may be the most organic strategy to get rid of
bagworms.  Why?  Daisies attract ichneumonid wasps.  These are not the fearsome wasps that
sting.  These wasps do not have stingers and will not bother humans.  They are not so kind to
bagworm larvae, preying upon them.  Unfortunately, this beautiful alternative to pesticides
and chemicals assumes you will know where bagworms will crop up.  Tough thing to do.
Daisies and Wasps
Bagworm and catepillar
Bagworm infestation
Sites and Blogs about Bagworms
There are excellent products available online.  Amazon offers a comprehensive list of brand name
products at inexpensive cost in their Home and Garden Store.  They even have a special section for
Pest Control.  Amazon is the largest online purveyor of pest control products.
A few of our favorite bagworm sites are  Natorp's In The Garden,  Garden's Alive, Life and Lawns and  Gardening Know How.   These sites are fonts of
information for getting rid of bagworms.
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