Cankerworm adults active!

Last year in Raleigh and around the state we had cankerworm outbreaks that defoliated trees and covered bystanders with caterpillars.  Detailed information about cankerworms is on our Cankerworm Project page.

Fall cankerworm moth stick to a sticky band. Photo: Greg Bryant, NCSU

Fall cankerworm moth stick to a sticky band. Photo: Greg Bryant, NCSU

Fall cankerworm (Alsophila pometaria) adults are active now. Since they are wingless they have to climb up tree trunks to lay eggs.  They have been pupating under trees in mulch and leaf litter all summer and fall.  We are testing the efficacy of using sticky bands to catch the adults as they climb to prevent them from laying eggs.

Hosts include oak, elm, maple, and others.  Willow oak was the tree species most heavily infested in Raleigh, Charlotte, Durham, and other cities.  To band trees just wrap a strip of duct tape or other material around a tree and cover it in tangle foot. Here is a video.

Spring cankerworm adults emerge in spring so watch for an alert in March or April. But you will already have your sticky bands up by then.

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