WASHINGTON - Evergreens throughout the region are being confronted with a new kind of enemy: the bagworm.
They are a unique and destructive kind of pest that is experiencing a resurgence this summer, possibly because of the mild winter or rainy spring that has led to luscious foliage throughout the region, says Mike Raupp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park.
Whatever the cause, bagworms leave a trail of destruction in their wake. They eat and defoliate junipers, spruces, pines and evergreens. Once these trees lose their leaves, they die.
Bagworms "are really pretty nasty, and this is the time of year they are just finishing their destruction out there," Raupp says.
Once the bagworms have devoured a tree, they will simply crawl to the next one and do the same. Their bag, made of silk and plant parts, helps to protect them and escape predators.
But that's not all the bags do. Female bagworms spend their entire lives inside a bag. Males, on the other hand, resemble moths and fly around looking for mates.
Once he has identified a female, he will mate with her by extending a large appendage into her bag.
"It's quite a trick but these bugs know how to do it," Raupp says.
If you notice these strange creatures in your yard, Raupp recommends getting rid of them immediately. Do not leave them on the ground because they will just find another tree to eat.
One option is to try a pesticide. For those who want to avoid chemicals, try picking them off the tree by hand and putting them in a bag to throw away. By August, these insects are at their peak and should be big enough to pick up.
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