Why Does Charlotte Fear Cankerworms?

  • Written by: Killingsworth Environmental
  • March 10, 2017

What’s The Deal With Cankerworms?

To understand why Charlotte works so hard every year to prevent cankerworms, it’s important to give you some background on these pests.

For more than 30 years, we’ve seen severe infestations of cankerworms, sometimes referred to as inchworms. In the 1970’s, Concord recorded its first minor infestation. Then, numbers remained low until 2009 when a major infestation was noticed south of Harrisburg. The following year it was confirmed to spread to parts of Concord and Kannapolis and populations have continued to increase rapidly since then.

This is why you often see wraps on Charlotte tree trunks after all the leaves have fallen, usually in late November/early December. The wrapping prevents the female cankerworm from getting to the tree top to lay her eggs on the branches and twigs.

In early spring the eggs hatch and the new generation chews small irregular holes in the emerging leaves, leaving just the veins.

This weakens the trees and makes them more susceptible to stress (already present in residential areas), drought, and disease. These can all ultimately lead to borer damage, branch dieback and root decline.

A mature, vigorous tree will remain healthy if it endures a single season of cankerworms, sometimes even two seasons, with just a slowing of growth.

However, after three or more generations of cankerworm attacks a tree, it can cause major limb dieback and loss of vigor. When we bring the young or weakened trees into the picture, the injuries from even just one session are more intense.

As if hurting our trees isn’t bad enough, these pests are also a nuisance to our general outdoor experience.

The cankerworms spin silk webbing that allows them to swing from treetop to treetop. And as you can imagine, walking outside and seeing large numbers of caterpillars spinning to the ground on silken threads, crawling or falling on picnic tables, doors, walks, and/or house siding is a very unpleasant environment.

This is why Charlotte continues to band their trees and prevent these pests at all costs.

For more information on lawn care and pest control, subscribe to our blog in the top right corner! And if you’re ready to get rid of your cankerworms, schedule your free pest control inspection with Killingsworth!

For a full explanation of each of the most common NC and SC pet intruders, signs of them, how to prevent them and how to treat them, download our free Pest Encyclopedia.

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