The larvae themselves are rarely seen; they are blackish or brown and live in distinctive conical or spindle-shaped bags on the host plant and only poke their heads out to feed. Bagworms are moths that feed on shrubs and trees during their larval stage. Receptive females emit pheromones (scents that attract the opposite sex), and a male, finding a female’s bagworm bag, must extend and poke his abdomen into the female’s case in order to mate with her. Bags may reach about 2½ inches long. This moth’s larvae spin unsightly baglike shelters in tree canopies and can cause serious damage through defoliation. The scales, whether muted or colorful, seem dusty if they rub off on your fingers. The following caterpillars are commonly reported from ornamental plants. In the absence of these preferred hosts, bagworm will eat the foliage of just about any tree: fir, spruce, pine, hemlock, sweetgum, sycamore, honey locust, and black locust. The bagworm's best defense is its camouflage bag, worn throughout its life cycle. Once the eggs hatch in the spring, the larvae begins to feed on the tree and makes its own bag, which typically measures between 1 and 2 inches in length. Sometimes the brittle, brownish, segmented pupal case remains protruding from the bottom tip of a male’s empty bag, after he has emerged. For nurseries and garden centers, even small numbers of bagworms can cause enough damage to nursery stock to make them unappealing to customers and thus unsalable. Set up moth traps to catch them. Bagworm larvae feed on the foliage of both evergreen and deciduous trees, especially these favorite host plants: cedar, arborvitae, juniper, and false cypress. They stay within the safety of their bags, sticking their heads out to feed and carrying the bags from branch to branch. This pest rarely builds up large populations in foreste… Bagworms usually begin feeding at the top of the tree. The bag allows otherwise vulnerable larvae to move freely from place to place. Bagworm caterpillars lay large numbers of eggs in their bags before they die. Bagworms defoliate the trees and shrubs they infest. Bagworm larvae feed on the foliage of both evergreen and deciduous trees, especially these favorite host plants: cedar, arborvitae, juniper, and false cypress. Bagworms can feed on many different plants, and Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis (also called the evergreen bagworm, eastern bagworm, common bagworm, common basket worm, or North American bagworm) can feed on over 50 families of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs (Rhainds et al. The caterpillars are mostly larvae of different kinds of moths. These insects have bags that are about one to two inches long and will increase in size as the bagworm larval stage grows. Interestingly (but not happily for landscapers), the larvae can travel across ground for considerable distances between plants before pupating. Tough, pungent-smelling evergreen foliage is usually free of pests, but some caterpillars are adapted to feed on the needles or scales of evergreen shrubs such as juniper (Juniperus spp.) Bagworm caterpillars typically feed at the top of the arborvitae shrub first. Bagwarm larvae eat the leaves and soft stems of many types of trees and shrubs, including evergreens. The female deposits her hundreds of eggs into her own bag and dies within a few days. The bags are not easily seen at this time unless large numbers are present. Males leave their bags to fly in search of mates. Males, on the other hand, resemble moths and fly around looking for mates. The wingless females and larvae are confined to their bags and are therefore easier to locate. Some of these lay eggs from which hatch destructive caterpillars that feed on our trees and shrubs. Crowded larvae may eat the buds on these conifers causing branch dieback and open, dead areas. Bagworm species are found globally, with some, such as the snailcase bagworm (Apterona helicoidella), in modern times settling continents where they are not native. Bagworm Moths are a family of moths whose caterpillars hide in cases built from plant debris. A severe infestation may defoliate plants, which can kill branches or entire plants. Adult females lack wings and antennae; they look a lot like caterpillars or maggots and usually do not leave their bags. The evergreen bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis), commonly known as bagworm, eastern bagworm, common bagworm, common basket worm, or North American bagworm, is a moth that spins its cocoon in its larval life, decorating it with bits of plant material from the trees on which it feeds.. Bagworm larvae injure plants when they feed on needles and leaves. In the absence of these preferred hosts, bagworm will eat the foliage of just about any tree: fir, spruce, pine, hemlock, sweetgum, sycamore, honey locust, and black locust. There are more than 1,400 kinds of moths and butterflies in North Carolina. Bagworm larvae grow and feed on trees causing plant damage. When a young bagworm finds a suitable food plant, it eats and starts constructing its protective case. Because bagworms typically do not move very far from their mother’s food plant, and because a female can lay hundreds of eggs, infestations of bagworms often occur on individual plants or groups of plants, while nearby plants may have only a few bagworms. A Adult moths do not feed, living just long enough to mate. We protect and manage the fish, forest, and wildlife of the state. The cases of bagworm moths are attached to rocks, trees or leaves, but they do not stay rooted to the same spot. However, they are most commonly found on juniper, arborvitae, spruce, and other evergreens. Debbie Hadley is a science educator with 25 years of experience who has written on science topics for over a decade. The bags protect the caterpillars from their natural enemies. Large infestations can cause considerable damage to a host shrub or tree, weakening it or simply making it look horrible. Bagworms are moths whose larvae feed on evergreens such as spruce, juniper, pine and arborvitae. Find local MDC conservation agents, consultants, education specialists, and regional offices. The larvae of bagworm moths live in protective cases they make out of their own silk plus plant materials or other debris. Read some reviews and buy one, then use it as directed. The winged male moths are rarely seen, since they only survive for a few days, but you might see them at lights in late summer and fall, August through October — mostly in September. Bagworm Diet . These living jewels have tiny, overlapping scales that cover their wings like shingles. The larvae can also feed on deciduous trees such as maple, elm, birch and sycamore. Photo credit: melvyn yeo/Flickr. Bagworms life cycle are differentiated into separate stages, much like any other organism. They cause permanent damage on evergreens. Moth traps can help catch the adult bagworm moths and reduce the number of progeny in the future. Bagwarm larvae eat the leaves and soft stems of many types of trees and shrubs, including evergreens. In large numbers, bagworms can cause significant defoliation, which can lead to the death of the plant. You may try Bacillus thuringiensis or an insecticide on young larvae, but these usually only work well if you apply them before the larvae create their protective bags. Look for suspicious cone-shaped bundles of dried brown foliage, up to 2 inches long, that match the tree's needles or leaves. Excessive defoliation of these conifers may cause entire plant death during the following season. Bagworms feed on the foliage of a wide variety of trees and shrubs. Sometimes the bags are mistaken for pine cones or other plant structures. These are basic sticky traps with a scented bait that you can find at any hardware store. Bagworms have a fascinating life cycle. Bagworm moth caterpillars feed on evergreens and carry a silken case or bag around with them in which they eventually pupate. Females don’t have wings. Bagworm, like all moths, undergoes complete metamorphosis with four stages. As they grow, the larvae enlarge their bags by adding more foliage. In late summer, they pupate and turn into their adult forms. The spindle-shaped bags are made of silk and bits of foliage (needle) fragments. The tough protective bags prevent many predators from bothering bagworms, but there are several species of ichneumon wasps and other parasitoids that lay eggs on and eat up bagworms. All have wingless (or nearly wingless) adult females that do not leave their bags, and the males are usually drab blackish shades. Trees such as sycamore, willow, and other deciduous trees, usually refoliate after an episode of heavy defoliation. Pupa: When the larvae reach maturity in late summer and prepare to pupate, they attach their bags to the underside of a branch. Caterpillars emerge from the sacs in May and June and feed on a wide range of evergreens and deciduous plants. Many butterflies and moths are associated with particular types of food plants, which their caterpillars must eat in order to survive. In the case of bagworms, however, the eggs, caterpillars, and adult females don’t leave their protective bags or even fully leave their pupal casing, which complicates matters slightly: The males must seek out the females. Young caterpillars feed in colonies on leaves enclosed in webbing. It can take all summer to reach maturity, at which the caterpillar is about 1 inch long. It also means that the same host plant may be “hit” by bagworms year after year. Cleverly disguised in their bags made from the foliage of the host tree, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis larvae feed on cedars, arborvitae, junipers, and other favorite landscape trees. The bagworm lives its entire life cycle inside the safety of its bag, which it constructs with silk and interwoven bits of foliage. This is another possible time for treatment. The larvae of all create protective cases out of plant materials or other debris. Evergreens throughout the region are being confronted with a new kind of enemy: the bagworm. After about 4 weeks the males emerge seeking out the female to mate. Bagworm damage 1. Identifying bagworm in the landscape requires a good eye capable of recognizing their excellent camouflage. Injury is not conspicuous early in the season because the caterpillars and their bags are small. The tiny, newly hatched caterpillars may stay on the same plant, if there is enough foliage to support them, or they may disperse themselves by “ballooning” on the wind via a strand of silk, much like spider hatchlings do. On evergreens, they’ll eat lots of the buds and foliage, causing branch tips to turn brown and then die. A caterpillar-like larva belongs to a wasp relative called a sawfly. Because bagworm usually infests evergreen trees, the brown bags may be overlooked at first, appearing like seed cones. Wingspan of males: about 1 inch. The rest catch onto trees and shrubs, then climb to the top of a plant and repeat the ballooning process or settle down to feed. The young caterpillars are 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and initially feed on the epidermal tissue on one side and the mesophyll, leaving other epidermal tissue intact. They love deciduous trees, coniferous trees, fruit trees and perennial flowers; however, they are only deadly to coniferous trees that don't lose their foliage. Moderate defoliation is unsightly. 2. 2009). Bagworms often are not detected by the untrained observer until August after severe damage has been done. The cases of dried plant leaves, evergreen needles, or lichen bits are often seen moving by themselves until a closer inspection reveals the engine behind it all. Damage by mature larvae is especially destructive to evergreen plants. They make a cocoon-like bag in which to live, while they hang on the branches of trees and shrubs to feed. 3. The larval form appears worm-like, hence the name bagworm. Characteristics: Bagworms are also referred to as evergreen bagworms. The adult moths in the bagworm family only live for a few days and do not eat. Approximately 1,000 species make up the family Psychidae, in which all species’ larvae are enclosed in a bag and most species have flightless adult females. Only the adult male moth leaves the protection of its bag when ready to mate. The moths and butterflies (adults) cannot do any damage to plants themselves. Severe infestations can damage the ae… Bagworms are actually caterpillars from various moth species. Additional bagworm predators include wasps and hornets, mice, woodpeckers, and sparrows. They have comblike antennae and usually have clear wings (which is very unmothlike), since they lose most of their wing scales as they squeeze out of their larval cases. Landscapers and homeowners don’t find bagworms pleasant. She then leaves her bag and drops to the ground; the eggs overwinter.Larva: In late spring, larvae hatch and disperse on silken threads. Bagworms, unlike many destructive garden pests, do not spread quickly, largely because the female is incapable of flying. When populations are high, bagworms are serious defoliators of plants. Bagworms (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) are caterpillars, and pine trees (Pinus spp.) In Missouri, they are most commonly noticed on eastern red cedar and on the various junipers and arborvitaes used in landscaping. Three well-known caterpillars—tent caterpillar, gypsy moth, and fall webworm—are often misidentified for each other by homeowners that are having problems with swathes of defoliated trees. How Serious Are Bagworms? Shrubs and trees that become heavily infested, particularly conifers, may be killed. Fall webworms overwinter in cocoons on the ground in soil or leaf litter. and arborvitae (Thuja spp.). Call 1-800-392-1111 to report poaching and arson. The bagworm (Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis) is a common pest of many coniferous and deciduous trees in the eastern U.S. Here is a glimpse into the various Bagworm life stages – The eggs of Bagworm moths hatch in end of May and beginning of June. Pine Trees and Bagworms. One of these ichneumons is Itoplectis conquisitor, a species that also zaps spruce budworm and some other problematic moth species. More leaves are enclosed as the caterpillars grow, and webs become more noticeable in late summer. Bagworm Moth Caterpillar Life Cycle. Females have no wings, legs, or mouthparts, and remain within their bags. You can pick them by hand, if the numbers are low. Butterflies, skippers, and moths belong to an insect order called the Lepidoptera — the "scale-winged" insects. Bagworm females cannot fly and local populations can build rapidly when established on preferred hosts, especially arborvitae, cedar, and juniper. This is the familiar bagworm well-known as a pernicious pest on evergreens and many other trees and shrubs in eastern North America. Adult male bagworms are moths and female bagworm caterpillars … Life Cycle. All have larvae that live in bags and mature females that are flightless. Adult female bagworm moths are larval in appearance; they lack the wings and other structures of the adult male and instead retain the appearance of a caterpillar even though they are sexually mature and can lay eggs within the bag. When small, the caterpillars feed in the layers of the leaf tissue, creating light patches on leaves. Adult moths emerge in summer and lay eggs on leaves of host trees. They immediately begin feeding and constructing their own bags. These caterpillar pests feed on leaves and needles and can completely defoliate a plant. If the host plant is young, small, or already struggling for some reason, a bagworm infestation can kill it. The Bagworm Moth Caterpillars feed up through August or so. This pest is native to North America. These spindle-shaped cases dangle from the food plants they’re eating. Adult female bagworm moths are larval in appearance; they lack the wings and other structures of the adult male and instead retain the appearance of a caterpillar even though they are sexually mature and can lay eggs within the bag. Bagworm moth caterpillars feed on evergreens and carry a silken case or bag around with them in which they eventually pupate. The Psychidae (bagworm moths, also simply bagworms or bagmoths) are a family of the Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths).The bagworm family is fairly small, with about 1,350 species described. Female moths, though confined to their bags, attract mates by releasing strong sex pheromones. ThoughtCo uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. If she doesn’t drop onto the ground when she dies, her dried-up body may remain with the eggs until they hatch in late spring the following year. Removing the bags by hand is helpful in managing populations. In the U.S., bagworms range from Massachusetts south to Florida, and west to Texas and Nebraska. As they age, they consume entire needles or leaves. Bagworms do the most damage during the larvae stage when they are caterpillars focused on feeding on plant matter. Are Bagworm moths harmful? The adult moths in the bagworm family only live for a few days and do not eat. We facilitate and provide opportunity for all citizens to use, enjoy, and learn about these resources. Young caterpillars feed on the upper epidermis of host plants, sometimes leaving small holes in the foliage. It also attacks fruit trees, ornamental trees, perennial flowers and decorative shrubs. Most frequently its targets are arborvitae, followed by red cedar and other members of the juniper family. One generation generally occurs per year. These strcutures are called cases, and bagworm moths are also known as "case moths”. are one of their favorite hosts. If you are unfamiliar with bagworm, you might never notice it on the evergreens in your yard. By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, Eastern Red Cedar, the Most Widely Distributed Eastern Conifer, The Eastern Tent Caterpillar (Malacosoma americanum), Characteristics of Giant Silkworm Moths and Royal Moths, Silver-Spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus), Geometer Moths, Inchworms, and Loopers: Family Geometridae, B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University. Plant Daisies to Fight Bagworms . The bag is sealed shut, and the larvae turn to head down inside the bag. This will help deter and repel bagworms naturally. In Missouri, they are most commonly noticed on eastern red cedar and on the various junipers and arborvitaes used in landscaping. The cocoon of the bagworm moth looks like a tiny log house. Adult male evergreen bagworm moths are furry and look a lot like blackish bees with long, tapering abdomen tips. Despite its nickname, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis is not a worm, but a moth. The moth is black, with clear wings that span roughly an inch across. Insect Killer - this pest control is designed for use on caterpillars and worm type insects, such as cabbage looper, bagworm, gypsy moth, fall cankerworm, elm spanworm and many more. Like other moths, they progress from egg to caterpillar (this species has 7 caterpillar instars, or stages), and full-grown caterpillars pupate, then become sexually mature adults. Frass falls out of the bottom end of the cone-shaped bag through an opening. Typical insecticides will have no effect when sprayed on the bag full of caterpillars. The evergreen bagworm's case grows to a length of over 6 cm, tapered and open on both ends. Similar species: There are nearly 30 species in the bagworm moth family in North America north of Mexico. The pupal stage lasts four weeks.Adult: In September, adults emerge from their pupal cases. Eastern Bagworm, Common Basket Worm, North American Bagworm, About 30 species in subfamily Lymantriinae (formerly a family) in North America, Eleven species in North America north of Mexico, More than 2,500 species in North America north of Mexico, More than 680 species in North America north of Mexico, More than 12,000 species in North America north of Mexico, Wildflowers, Grasses and Other Nonwoody Plants.