How To Get Rid Of Bagworms Naturally

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Discover the effective and eco-friendly methods to combat bagworms in your garden. This comprehensive guide, “How to Get Rid of Bagworms Naturally,” empowers you with practical solutions to protect your trees and shrubs without resorting to harmful chemicals.

Learn about the fascinating life cycle of bagworms, their vulnerabilities to natural predators, and the remarkable power of cultural control techniques. We’ll delve into the safe and effective use of horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), empowering you with a range of natural remedies to keep bagworms at bay.

Identification and Biology

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Bagworms are a type of moth that is commonly found in the United States. They are known for their unique habit of creating a protective case or “bag” around themselves. This bag is made of silk and other materials and helps to protect the bagworm from predators and the elements.

Bagworms have a distinct appearance. The larvae are small, brown, and worm-like. They have a dark head and a body that is covered in small, spiny hairs. The adults are small, brown moths with a wingspan of about 1 inch.

Bagworms go through a four-stage life cycle: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The eggs are laid in the fall and hatch in the spring. The larvae feed on the leaves of trees and shrubs for several months before they pupate.

The adults emerge from the pupae in the summer and mate. The females then lay eggs, and the cycle begins again.

Host Plants

Bagworms can infest a wide variety of trees and shrubs, but they are most commonly found on evergreens, such as pines, firs, and spruces. They can also infest deciduous trees, such as oaks, maples, and willows.

Natural Predators and Parasites: How To Get Rid Of Bagworms Naturally

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Bagworms are vulnerable to a range of natural predators and parasites that help keep their populations under control. These include:


  • Birds such as chickadees, titmice, and woodpeckers prey on bagworms, pecking open their cases to reach the larvae inside.
  • Bagworms are particularly vulnerable to birds during the winter when other food sources are scarce.


  • Certain species of wasps, such as the bagworm wasp, lay their eggs inside bagworm cases.
  • The wasp larvae then feed on the bagworm larvae, eventually killing them.

Parasitic Flies

  • Parasitic flies, such as the tachinid fly, lay their eggs on the outside of bagworm cases.
  • The fly larvae then hatch and bore into the case, feeding on the bagworm larvae.

Cultural Control Methods

How to get rid of bagworms naturally

In addition to natural predators and parasites, there are various cultural control methods that can be employed to manage bagworm infestations without resorting to chemical pesticides. These methods involve physical removal techniques, the use of traps and barriers, and the implementation of good gardening practices.

Physical removal techniques include handpicking bagworms from plants and pruning infested branches. Handpicking is most effective when bagworms are young and still small. It is important to wear gloves when handling bagworms, as their hairs can cause skin irritation.

Traps and Barriers

Traps and barriers can be used to prevent bagworms from spreading to new areas. Traps can be made by placing a sticky substance, such as petroleum jelly, around the base of trees or shrubs. Bagworms will get stuck in the sticky substance and will not be able to climb up the plant.

Barriers can be made by wrapping burlap or other rough material around the base of trees or shrubs. The rough material will make it difficult for bagworms to crawl up the plant.

Horticultural Oils and Insecticidal Soaps

Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are effective natural methods for controlling bagworms. These products work by disrupting the insect’s exoskeleton and causing dehydration. Horticultural oils are made from petroleum distillates, while insecticidal soaps are made from fatty acids. Both types of products are safe to use on plants and will not harm beneficial insects.


To apply horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps, follow these steps:

  • Mix the product according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Apply the product to the foliage of the plant, paying close attention to the undersides of the leaves.
  • Reapply the product every 7-10 days until the bagworms are gone.

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)

Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a naturally occurring bacterium that produces proteins toxic to certain insects, including bagworms. When bagworms ingest Bt, the proteins bind to receptors in their gut, causing the gut to rupture and the bagworm to die.

Bt is available in several formulations, including wettable powders, dusts, and granules. It can be applied to bagworms using a variety of methods, including spraying, dusting, or broadcasting.

Application Methods, How to get rid of bagworms naturally

  • Spraying:Bt can be mixed with water and applied to bagworms using a backpack sprayer or hose-end sprayer.
  • Dusting:Bt dust can be applied to bagworms using a hand duster or power duster.
  • Broadcasting:Bt granules can be broadcast over areas where bagworms are present.

Other Natural Remedies

While traditional and anecdotal methods may offer some control over bagworms, their effectiveness can vary widely. These methods often rely on repellents or natural insecticides that may have limited impact on the overall bagworm population.


Vinegar is a common household item that has been used to repel various insects, including bagworms. The strong odor of vinegar can deter bagworms from feeding and laying eggs. To use vinegar as a repellent, mix equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle and apply it directly to the bagworms and infested areas.

Repeat the application every few days for several weeks.

Neem Oil

Neem oil, extracted from the neem tree, has insecticidal and repellent properties. It can be used to control bagworms by spraying it directly onto the bagworms and infested areas. Neem oil can also be used as a soil drench to prevent bagworms from emerging from the ground.

However, neem oil can be toxic to beneficial insects, so it’s important to use it sparingly and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Essential Oils

Certain essential oils, such as peppermint oil, tea tree oil, and rosemary oil, have insecticidal and repellent properties that can be effective against bagworms. To use essential oils, mix a few drops of the oil with water in a spray bottle and apply it directly to the bagworms and infested areas.

Essential oils can also be diffused in the air to repel bagworms. However, it’s important to note that essential oils can be toxic to pets and humans if ingested or used in high concentrations, so it’s crucial to use them with caution and according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Integrated Pest Management

How to get rid of bagworms naturally

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a holistic approach to managing bagworms that emphasizes the use of multiple methods to effectively control their populations while minimizing environmental impact. IPM for bagworms involves combining biological, cultural, and chemical control methods to achieve sustainable pest management.

The key principles of IPM for bagworm control include:

  • Monitoring bagworm populations to determine their density and distribution.
  • Identifying and utilizing natural predators and parasites that feed on bagworms.
  • Implementing cultural practices that make the environment less favorable for bagworms, such as removing host plants and pruning infested branches.
  • li>Using selective pesticides, such as horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps, to target bagworms while minimizing harm to beneficial insects.

  • Combining multiple methods to achieve effective and sustainable control.

Importance of Combining Methods

Combining multiple IPM methods is essential for effective bagworm control because it reduces the reliance on any single method, which can help prevent the development of resistance. Additionally, combining methods can address different life stages of bagworms and target them at their most vulnerable stages.

For example, using natural predators and parasites can help control bagworm populations in the early stages, while horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps can be used to target older larvae and pupae. By combining multiple methods, IPM provides a comprehensive and sustainable approach to managing bagworm populations.

Monitoring and Prevention

Bagworm infestations can be challenging to control once established. Therefore, monitoring and prevention are crucial for effective bagworm management.Regularly inspect your trees and shrubs for signs of bagworm activity. Look for small, cone-shaped bags hanging from branches or needles. Early detection is essential for successful control.Prevent

bagworm infestations by maintaining healthy trees and shrubs. Avoid over-fertilization, which can stimulate excessive growth and attract bagworms. Encourage beneficial insects and birds that prey on bagworms by providing habitat and food sources.