• Last modified 640 days ago (Aug. 19, 2020)


Bagworms threaten Central Park's trees

Staff Writer

A large evergreen in Marion’s Central Park heavily infested with bagworms might be a lost cause, but park staff will wait until spring to be sure.

The tree looks awful with its denuded branches festooned with brown cocoons that are a trademark of the pest, said Pam Byer, an expert who consults with the city.

It is too late in the season to spray, so Byer said they can only give the heavily damaged conifer time.

“I am not sure that blue spruce will survive,” she said. “But we didn’t want to take it down. We will leave it and see if it will recover.”

Bagworms are a damaging pest that mostly feed off conifers like cedars, but infestations have boomed these past few years, Byer said.

“The population is so big they are on everything now,” she said. “I find them on my blueberry bushes. They used to be found only on cedars, but that is not the case anymore.”

County extension agent Rickey Roberts has fielded a lot of calls this past year from homeowners who wanted to know how to deal with the pests.

Unfortunately, timing is everything when getting rid of bagworms.

Bagworms are most vulnerable to sprays when they hatch as young larvae and feed on the tree in June or July, he said.

“I am a fan of trying to hit them the first of July,” he said, adding that by August the caterpillars are nestled in “bags” they spin from silk and pilfered foliage.

The blue spruce was sprayed early this year, but it wasn’t treated the year before when the larvae invaded the tree.

“They are hard to see,” Byer said. “No one noticed until the end of last summer — ‘Oh, no, it’s got bagworms.’ Even I didn’t notice it and I am a tree person.”

The blue spruce will be treated again, she said. If not, the bagworms eventually will kill it and other trees in the park.

Her husband picked the cocoons off a sapling bald cyprus to try and rescue it, she said.

Still, she remains optimistic about the evergreen.

“I have seen trees I thought would die and they did not. After a while you could not tell they had bagworms,” she said. “I would like to give it a year and see.”

Last modified Aug. 19, 2020