The Q&A Archives: bagworms already in their bags

Question: We have 2 pine trees in our yard. They are different kinds. We do not know what kind either one of them are. The large one is about 10 ft tall or so. The small one is about 6 ft tall or so. The problem is with the large one. We noticed that the back of the tree is dead about half-way from bottom to top (maybe a little less than half-way). We noticed small "pouches" hanging from the branches. We took one inside and cut it open. Inside was a "worm-like" creature about 1 inch long. The body is black with maybe some yellow coloring on it (we didn't look very long at it.), and is sectioned, like an insect. We looked up pine trees and worms in your library and found bagworms. We only found 3 questions on bagworms, and only one of those was for pine trees. Are these bagworms that we have? How do we get rid of them once they are already in the pouch? Are they a threat to our roses, cacti, other plants, and especially, our other pine tree?

Answer: Yes, bagworms are bagworms, no matter where they decide to take up residence. They aren't as likely to inhabit your perennials but are quite common in pine trees. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), sold under the trade name Dipel and Thuricide, is a great weapon against bagworms. It is a bacterium that acts as a stomach poison, so expect the bagworms to continue feeding for a time. It also works against other critters like gypsy moths, tent caterpillars, webworms, tomato hornworms, and other moth larvae). It is a great organic remedy that will not harm the birds, bees, animals and other insects in the garden. Since the pests must consume it for it to be effective, wait until you see them. BT is very popular and is widely available in mail order catalogs and most garden centers.

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