Identifying Eastern Evergreen Bagworms

With July comes the noticeable telltale signs of foliage damage on evergreens such as junipers, Leyland cypress, and the like.  The culprit?  Eastern Evergreen bagworms.  Look closely.  That bugger is well disguised.

Manteo 2009 187

Helen Yoest
Gardening With Confidence



  1. Janet said

    They are nasty.

  2. Yes Janet, Nasty is the only way to describe it! H.

  3. tina said

    I hate these things. I never heard of them until about five years ago when I met a landscaper who had an absolute phobia of them. He hated everything about them and the evergreens they seem to prefer. Once he pointed them out to me on bald cypress, I spotted these bags everywhere. Inevitably I was going to get some and of course it happened. I purchased an arborvitae that had an infestation. Of course it did not show itself until the next summer. I spent many a day out there picking off the bags by hand, squishing the bags then plopping them in a bucket of soapy water. And do you know what? Haven’t seen a single one since. It looks like these ones are on arborvitae too. They just seem to love it. Good luck ridding the shrub of them, it can be done.

  4. Erik said

    I just learned whaty was killing my 20′ Leyland cypress from reading this and other web pages. Spent an hour out there hand-picking and/or cutting away a couple of hundred bagworm bags on the lower part of the tree (about 6-8 bags at the top were too high to reach). I ended up pruning most of the small branches with bagworms just short of where they were attached, rather than deal with trying to remove the silk bands attaching each bag to a branch–fortunately all the bags seem to prefer small outside branches. I didn’t see any “loose” worms anywhere on the tree, and I tore open a couple of bags and found the larvae inside (I know–yech!).
    Questions: this being late August, will it help to have removed 97% of the occupied bagworm bags by hand, or is it just too late? And how resilient are cypresses once the bagworms are gone, and what can I do to help nurse the tree back to health? The bottom third of the tree is mostly defoliated, but the rest of it is still mostly green. Thanks for any advice anyone can offer!

  5. Hey Erik, so sorry to hear about your Leylands. I know they are susceptible to bagworms. Lucky for me, they have not shown up in Helen’s Haven.

    You will want to get the ones you left behind. They will need to be picked off. I don’t suggest any chemical pesticides, and it doesn’t look like you are going that route anyway (Go Eric!) but once the bag worms pupate, chemicals will do little good. So if you can see that they are actively feeding, as shown in the photo, they are still causing damage. Also know that females have an additional larval instars (males has have 5, females have 6). As such, the females will feed longer…so go after them. Pick the off. Don’t leave any to begin anew next year. Go pick them off.

    They do HEAVY damage very quickly. Hopefully your Leylands will recover. It is worth waiting to see. However, you will most likely be prone to them. Keep an eye on them for next year. H.

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