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Killing the Cankerworm: Stopping the insect that can kill your trees

Thompson

With the Winter months not too far off, the annual scare over Cankerworms is coming to the forefront in the Carolinas.

Each spring, after the inch-long worms mate following the first few freezing nights of the year, the worms eat opening leaf buds before devouring the veins of the host tree’s leaves.

Paul Thompson of the Clemson Extension Service in York County said this can mean major issues for some older trees.

“A young, healthy tree could probably get defoliated for three or four years in a row and we wouldn’t notice any severe problems with it. But a tree that’s very old and mature, that’s not as resilient or a tree that’s under stress — this could be the last straw.”

And Thompson says there are ways to control the spread of the Cankerworm. One of the best methods is to wrap your tree with a special outward-facing sticky tape.

“The banding traps the female on a sticky trap to prevent her from getting up in the tree and laying eggs where the leaves will form.”

While others, like the City of Charlotte in recent years, have chosen to use an aerial spray.

“They used a biological control, commonly known as ‘BT,’” Thompson said. It’s a bacterium that kills the worms as they feed on foliage that’s been sprayed. It’s harmless to just about everything else.”-

For more tips on banding your tree to protect it from the Cankerworm, click here.

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