Cankerworm: A Common Pest in Alabama Trees
Cankerworms (Alsophila pometaria)
Cankerworms (Alsophila pometaria), native to North America, are a common pest affecting trees in Alabama, including the Birmingham and Huntsville regions.
Ace Tree Services is here to help you understand the impact of cankerworms on your trees and how we can help protect your landscape from their damage.
The Life Cycle of Cankerworms
These insects have a four-stage life cycle: egg, pupa, larva (caterpillar), and adult. Typically found from Georgia to Nova Scotia and west to Texas, cankerworms mate in December, and the female moths climb trees to lay eggs on twigs and small branches.
Cankerworms and Their Effects on Trees
As trees leaf out in the spring, the cankerworm eggs hatch into small green caterpillars that feed on the leaves. While cankerworms usually don't kill trees, repeated defoliation weakens them, making them more susceptible to other stresses like age, drought, or other insects and diseases. Additionally, they create a nuisance for anyone walking beneath an infested tree in the spring.
Tree Banding: An Effective Cankerworm Control Method
Tree banding, applied between late November and the end of December, is an effective way to control cankerworm populations. By applying a glue barrier to the tree trunk, the wingless cankerworm moths are trapped as they climb the tree. It's important to wait until most leaves have fallen from the trees to prevent them from sticking to the bands.
Other Treatment Options for Cankerworms
In some cases, cankerworms may persist despite tree banding efforts, especially if neighboring properties didn't participate in banding. In these situations, other options are available during the active season. One option is a systemic treatment applied to the soil, which takes 24-48 hours for uptake and is ideally done right as the hatch begins. Another option is a foliar spray that specifically targets cankerworms, preventing total defoliation if the tree is heavily infested.
Ace Tree Services is dedicated to helping Alabama residents in Birmingham, Huntsville, and surrounding areas protect their trees from cankerworm damage. By understanding the impact of these pests and employing effective control methods, we can help maintain the health and beauty of your landscape. Call an ISA certified arborist from Ace Tree Service at (205) 332-7757!