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What eats cankerworms?

Birds, other insects, lizards and even squirrels are known to eat canker worms. In fact, if you see some lose bark on an infested tree, this could be a sign that some predators are having a canker worm buffet.

It would be great if predators could naturally take care of the canker worms for us. The problem: there are so many canker worms that it’s hard to eat them all. This is a natural defense. Like a sardine in the ocean, canker worms survive from predators because there are so many of them.

That’s why we need to help our trees by banding them in the fall. Tree bands prevent the wingless, female version of the canker worms from crawling to the top and laying its eggs. Those eggs become the dangling dangers to runners and pedestrians in the spring.

Around the Charlotte area, the Fiery Searcher Beetle loves to chow-down on canker worms. To enlist these beetles in our war against canker worms, we need to be sure to remove our tree bands, at the right time. Once they’ve prevented the females from laying eggs, remove your tree bands (around the same time as you see them hanging around- late April) so these beetles can help you out.

If you subscribe to the email list, we'll remind you when it's time to remove your tree bands.

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When do canker worms go away?

Every Spring, after all the canker worms have slid down their silk lifelines, they burrow into the ground, form a cocoon and wait until fall before they emerge again. This usually takes a couple weeks before they’ve completely gone away. But they never really go away. They emerge in the fall, once the cold weather begins, as a moth. When they hatch these horny buggers breed. As is typical, the males fly away, leaving the wingless mothers crawl up the tree and lay their eggs. The eggs then lie in wait until next Spring, so they can annoy you again. This is why tree banding is so important. If you can catch these moths as the crawl up a tree’s trunk, they won’t be able to lay their eggs. That means, next spring, there will be less inchworms dangling from trees, getting caught in your hair, and hiding under your shirt.

Is there a natural way to get rid of canker worms?

There are a couple of natural ways to get rid of canker worms. For one, you can use a bacteria-based pesticide. These pesticides only affect certain insects (like canker worms) and won’t hurt other, beneficial insects (such as bees). This kind of targeted attack can be tricky. You have to apply this pesticide early in their life cycle. This is usually before we see them hanging down, on their silk, from the tree. A another natural way to get rid of canker worms is through predators. There are several creatures that eat canker worms. Some birds, insects and even rodents will eat them. The problem is the canker worms strategy to survive is through their large numbers. There are so many canker worms that predators can’t possibly eat them all. Another natural approach to canker worms is to let them do their thing, but take care of the tree. While most trees will be able to replace their leaves, after the canker worms go to town on them, this is much easier when the tree is healthy. Make su

When do you band trees for cankerworms?

You will want to band your trees in the fall. When the weather starts to get cooler, the adult canker worms hatch. After breeding, the wingless-females crawl up the tree to lay their eggs. You need to catch them before they reach the highest point of the tree, where they want to lay their eggs. If you can band your trees before they hatch, you can catch them before they lay their eggs. This will prevent the inchworms from getting in your hair- and defoliating your trees- in the springtime, when they hatch.