The Secret Lives of Bagworms: Surprising Facts and Myths About These Mysterious Insects

Date May 12, 2023

Author TreeNewal Staff

The Truth About Bagworm Infestations

Bagworms, the mysterious insects that build protective cases out of twigs and leaves, are often misunderstood. They’re fascinating creatures that have a secret life cycle and unique adaptations. This blog explores surprising facts and myths about bagworms, their habitat, behavior, and ways to control them.

What Are Bagworms?

Image via Flickr by globalreset

Bagworms are moth larvae that build bag-like structures around themselves for protection. They construct these structures out of twigs, leaves, and other materials they find in their environment. These structures are tough, waterproof, and camouflaged to blend in with their surroundings. Once a bagworm larva builds its protective case, it never leaves it again.

Myth: Bagworms are Caterpillars

Fact: Bagworms are moth larvae, not caterpillars. They’re the larval stage of several species of moths in the family Psychidae. Adult bagworm moths are small, drab-colored insects that look like flies. The females are wingless, so they cannot fly, while the males have wings and can fly.

Habitat of Bagworms

Bagworms can be found in many parts of the world, but they’re most common in North America, where they inhabit forests, parks, and gardens. Bagworms are particularly fond of evergreens, such as spruce, pine, and juniper trees. These insects are also attracted to deciduous trees, including oak, maple, and elm.

Behavior of Bagworms

Bagworms feed on the leaves of their host trees and can cause severe damage if left unchecked. They’re active from late spring to early fall, with peak activity occurring in late summer. During this time, the larvae move around inside their cases, searching for food and a place to pupate.

Myth: Bagworms Only Affect Evergreens

Fact: Bagworms can attack a wide range of trees and shrubs, including deciduous and evergreen species. It’s essential to regularly perform maintenance on healthy trees and shrubs through proper pruning, fertilization, and irrigation to prevent bagworm infestations. Frequent inspections of trees and shrubs can also help detect bagworms early on. If an infestation is detected, prompt action is necessary to control the spread of bagworms to neighboring trees and shrubs. In severe cases, removing and disposing of heavily infested trees may be necessary to prevent the spread.

Methods of Bagworm Control

Bagworms can be challenging to control, as their cases protect them. The most effective control method is to remove the bags by hand, which can be time-consuming and labor-intensive. Gardeners can also use pesticides, but they must be applied at the right time to be effective.

Myth: Bagworms Only Affect Trees

Fact: Bagworms can also damage shrubs and other ornamental plants. They’re known to feed on a variety of species, including arborvitae, boxwood, and roses.
In conclusion, bagworms are fascinating insects with a unique life cycle and behavior. While they can be destructive to trees and other plants, there are effective ways to control them. By understanding their habits and habitat, tree care professionals and homeowners can take steps to protect their valuable assets from these mysterious insects. If you have any questions or need help removing bagworms, give our team at TreeNewal a call.