These Caterpillars Will Eat Up Your Christmas Tree

Our Texas insect expert answers common questions about bugs.

By Laura RiceNovember 28, 2016 1:22 pm| ,

As families put up decorations this holiday season, they may bring in some insect visitors: bagworms. These caterpillars can be found on cedar, juniper and pine trees – like what you might decorate for Christmas. If you’re not a fan of bagworms on your Christmas tree, pick them off or paint them gold and they’ll blend right in.

Wizzie Brown, an insect specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office, has the details.

What are bagworms?

“They are caterpillars that turn into a moth. … When they hatch out of the egg, the larvae will spin a cocoon and they’ll incorporate parts of the plant that they’re on into that and it makes a cute little bag or ornament on the tree.”

Do bagworms harm trees?

“The larvae are feeding on the plant material … so they can harm the tree if you have them at high levels. If you just have one or two on there it’s not going to be a big deal.”

How do I get rid of them?

“If you don’t care if they’re eating whatever they’re on – because a lot of people want to get rid of the cedars – then you can let them do their thing. But if you’re concerned about your trees being eaten then you can hand pick them off. … If you have larger trees or you feel like you need to use a pesticide of some sort, you could use a Bacillus thuringiensis product that just targets caterpillars.”

Post by Betsy Joles.