Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis is the species of the moth that produces the tale tale sign that describes its common name and that is the bagworm. The female moth lays her eggs on branches of coniferous and deciduous trees in the fall. The larvae eat the vegetation while creating a pouch around itself. This pouch is made up of the host plant’s vegetation and this is why the bagworm is such a destructive pest.
In the past, the only choice a gardener had was to either spray with a chemical or hand pick off the bags. Today, research is being done to create organic ways of dealing with the bagworm.
The first way of dealing with this pest is through cleaning the garden. Remove any debris around host trees. This simple step will prevent future infestations. When doing this cleaning, do not place organic material in the compost bin. This will just move the problem to another area. Instead, throw away the garden waste.
Apply Bacillus thuringiensis, which is a natural occurring bacterium, in the fall. This organic insecticide will kill the bagworms without any negative effects to the environmental.
Another technique to use is to squirt dish soap into each bag. This can be very labor intensive but it has been found to smother the bagworm larvae.
To utilize this technique begins with mixing up the solution. Add 2 tablespoons dish soap into one gallon of water. Stir thoroughly and place in a sprayer. Before spraying, poke a hole in the side of each bagworm and spray solution into the hole.
The dish soap solution suffocates the larvae inside the bag.
Set out pheromone traps or traps impregnated with a sex hormone that attracts male moths in August. The male moths will become stuck on the traps and will not be able to breed.
Remove by Hand
If there are only a few bagworms present, consider removing the bags by hand but do not just snatch off. Using this approach will cause a silk to remain on the stem and girdle the area.
To properly remove a bagworm is simple. It only requires one to cut the bag off instead of pulling off.
Attracting Natural Predators
The Ichneumonid wasp is a natural predator of the bagworm. To utilize this technique requires the gardener to plant host plants for the Ichneumonid wasp. Once these plants are planted the Ichuemonid wasp will appear. The following plants are ones that have been tested and proven to attract this type of wasp. These include New England asters, Shasta daisies, and Gazania.
The techniques described above will provide organic choices that any gardener can add to their pest control arsenal.