He is LIGHT and LIFE and TRUTH! Look to Him for the ALL the answers. He will guide us, if we'll let Him.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The Dreaded Bagworm!

Bagworms!  

A Christmas Tree Farmer's worst nightmare....well, not really.  

They are no fun, but we are surviving them and will be victorious over them!
 They attach to the needles on the tree.  They are actually little caterpillars who live in a bag.  
They emerge a tiny bit through a hole in the top of the bag and feed on the tree. (See above picture)
But, boy do they do a number on the tree!
Do you see all the brown hang-y down-y things?  (Don't you just love my professional jargon ?) :0)  What about all those brown needles in the center of the tree?  That's the damage from these yucky ole bagworms.

How dare they!

Actually....it's our fault.  

How is that, you ask?  

Well, last summer while we were shearing we evidently missed the mama bagworm on this tree.  In late summer she lays her eggs and they winter over in her bag.  Each bag can have as many as 1000 eggs.  These worms on this tree are the babies.  In the springtime they will hatch out and climb out of the mama's (she is already dead) bag, make their own bag and then commence to just devouring the poor tree.
A close up of the damage to the tree.
Once they have eaten their way to maturity the males metamorphosize into a black moth while the females remain a caterpillar and stay in the bag to lay their eggs.  Then they die.

How do you get rid of them?  Well, we remove them one at a time by hand.  Yep, it's kinda gross!  
 

 We carry a jug of gasoline and just drop them into it.  That insures that they die and we don't have to spend the time smushing each and every one....ugh!
After smushing...green ooze! 
Like I said, they're really gross.  This is what we used to do until we found out just pulling them off and tossing them into the gasoline is faster and um...less gross!

Once we find a tree with bagworms we have to go through it with a fine-toothed comb to find each and every one.  It's imperative that we find them all.  We found a total of 163 bagworms on this tree.  Yep, we counted each and every one.



Then, we check each tree on every side of this one.  Typically, we will find one or two in these other trees.  So, all shearing stops until we have found each and every bagworm.  
Here's the tree after all the bagworms are off.  This tree will survive, but will have naked parts on the inside. If the bagworms had been left to do their work, this tree would be totally needle-free. 

We typically find the bagworms in our White Pine trees and Spruce trees.

Anybody wanna come to the farm and help de-bagworm the trees??
I'll gladly give up my spot! :0)

Thanks for stopping by!
Dawn

5 comments:

Tonya Hamilton said...

Wow! I didn't know how invasive they are! So sad we don't live closer ;)

HandmaidforHim (Dawn Gray) said...

Yep! They can take over very quickly! It's a good thing we shear by hand like we do and that gives us the opportunity to check for the little buggers! :0) As you can tell it's not my most favorite thing to do! Hubby definitely does the bulk of it.

linda reed said...

What a pain! We found one on our white pine this spring, and picked off the bag & smushed it. I sure wouldn't want to do 163. Good thing you have great help!

Jacqueline said...

I can see that it is terribly time consuming! It looks like you found them in good time, though! Consider spraying with Safer Brand B.t. It is OMRI approved and safe for children, pets, and the environment!
Blessings!

HandmaidforHim (Dawn Gray) said...

Hi Jacqueline,
Thank you for the advice. May check into that. We try to stay as organic as possible...so, this might be a good alternative. :)