Charlotte Bands Trees to Battle Cankerworms

Charlotte Bands Trees to Battle Cankerworms
tree banding

tree banding

Charlotte, a city that loves its trees, is bracing to battle the scourge of the cankerworms.

Though you won’t see them until spring, now’s the time to protect your trees against these creatures, sometimes called inchworms.

Wingless female moths are beginning to climb tree trunks to lay their eggs. In the spring, the eggs will hatch, and young worms will eat away the leaves of deciduous trees before the foliage can fully develop. Though they’ll be out for only a couple of weeks before burrowing back into the ground, these worms can do serious damage. Trees that have been repeatedly attacked or are already under stress from drought could die sooner or be susceptible to disease, says Don McSween, the city's arborist.

The city’s great willow oak trees are particular favorites, but the worms aren’t terribly choosy. They’ll eat from dozens of plants and trees.

The increasing number of worms has given rise to a regional industry of prevention.

Experts recommend bands covered with tanglefoot, a harmless adhesive, be placed around tree trunks about chest high in November. The adhesive, which is not a pesticide, stays sticky during cold weather and will stop the moths’ climb to the top.

Several local tree services will band trees for homeowners or you can do it yourself with supplies from a local hardware store.

McSween says it’s hard to predict which areas of the city may be hard it, but all neighborhoods can begin protecting their trees.

The worms are native to this area, but the infestations have been getting steadily worse the past several years. Charlotte went so far as to attack the worms from the air in 2008, with planes spraying insecticide in several areas, covering about half the city.

As with other work around the house, diligence now will pay off later, McSween says.

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