Bag the Bag Worms Naturally!

Real Estate Agent with McGraw Realtors

Ella Fitzgerald sang it best.  "Summertime...and the livin' is eeeasssyyyy...."  I love summertime.  And I love the music of Ella Fitzgerald. 

What I don't love is what we call summertime "bag worms" or "web worms".  These little nasties show up about June and begin spinning their thick silky web worm webs in our trees.  If you don't remove them, they can strip a tree of all of its' leaves quickly.

Here is a young web worm nest that we found in our River Birch tree the other day.  You can see that they have already begun to kill the leaves.

Oklahoma web worms

You can't really see the little buggers in the picture, but you can see the damage that web worms can do.  Here's a close up of these pests when they are full grown.


If you want to get rid of web worms (and who doesn't!?), there are several different kinds of chemical applications you can use.  But Diane and I go green when it comes to doing battle with these guys.  We heard a couple of years ago that all you have to do is to spray them down with...

Dawn soap

Yes, that's Dawn dish washing soap.  Apparently, it suffocates the web worms and eradicates them effectively.  Further, it is green friendly in that spraying it on the tree does no damage to the environment.  That's good!

The thing to remember when going into battle against web worms is that you must spray them heavily.  I always put my sprayer on the 8 ounce setting.  Once the soap begins flowing (so that you can see soap bubbles on the healthy leaves of the tree) I spray the webbed area all around.  You need to be sure to get under the web also. 

Usually, if you wait a day or two, you'll be able to see if you need a second application.  Once the web worms are dead, you can cut the branch out of the tree, if you wish.  They'll do no further damage.  I usually leave the branch and allow the winter winds to destroy and remove it for me.

Keeping web worms at bay in the summertime isn't hard if you get proactive quickly.  And fighting them isn't expensive or harmful to the environment either.  And once they're gone, you can get back to Ella..."Summertime, and the livin' is easy!"

Web worm picture from Flickr Creative Commons:

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Bob Haywood
Bob Haywood
Owasso, Oklahoma REALTOR®

(918) 272-7272

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Jeremy K. Frost
Keller Williams Realty - Dripping Springs, TX
Associate Broker, CNE, CRS, ePro, PSA

Sound like a lot of fun! Thanks for sharing, it's posts like this that make active rain great!

Jun 22, 2010 03:09 AM #1
Team Honeycutt
Allen Tate - Concord, NC

Or you can use them for fishing. They make great bait.

Jun 22, 2010 08:48 AM #2
Bob Haywood
McGraw Realtors - Owasso, OK

Allen, I didn't know they made good fish bait.  They look so nasty I don't even want to touch them!

Jun 22, 2010 10:06 AM #3
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate

Gross, sick, icky...

Jun 22, 2010 03:04 PM #4
Tony & Darcy Cannon
Aubrey and Associates Realty - Layton, UT
The C Team

Bob, nice tip, thanks for sharing it with us!

Jun 22, 2010 05:26 PM #5
Leslie Helm
Tennessee Recreational Properties - Jamestown, TN
Real Estate For Trail Riders

Hi, Bob. I remember bag worms from my childhood in Connecticut; we called them "tent worms." They are dreadful....glad you have the solution (no pun intended) at hand!

Jun 23, 2010 01:15 AM #6
Tammie White, Broker
Franklin Homes Realty LLC - Franklin, TN
Franklin TN Homes for Sale

Bob thanks for this rather easy solution.  We lost 3 leland cypress last year due to these buggers.  We'll try this tip. It's a lot easier and less expensive that what we currently use.

Jun 24, 2010 05:18 AM #7
Bill Wilson
Paradigm AdvantEdge - Edmond, OK

I'll give it a try. Right now I'm losing the war...

Jun 26, 2010 11:13 AM #8

Hi Everyone,
The first picture that Bob posted is indeed bag worms, however the second picture is not. Those are Tent Caterpillars. They are harmless to humans, do not sting, and are some of the most social caterpillars. They are also a food source for many species of birds. If you do have tent caterpillars, just leave them alone. If you have bag worms, then using a nontoxic method to get rid of them is most desirable. We all need to learn about what we are trying to remove from mother nature, before we wind up with nothing.

Jun 24, 2014 11:55 AM #9
Amy O'Laughlin
Saint George, UT

Can anyone recommend a good hose attachment sprayer  that shoots really far?  We have a very tall tree that we just can't reach to the top of, even with tall ladders.  My tree's branches look like the top picture, and last year they ate every leaf on the tree very quickly!

Jun 29, 2016 12:30 AM #10
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