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What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Their Aging Trees

www.jackmcneary.com

 Cankerworm Page

Cankerworms 2012-2013

If you are just visiting this page, you might want to first look at cankerworms 2007/2008.  I gave a fairly detailed program about cankerworms and then wrote up most of the text for this web site.   What you see directly below goes back to the first of the year (2012).  If you want to see what happened earlier, go back to the Cankerworm 2010-2011 link in the sidebar to the left.   Jack McNeary

November 11, 2013       If you got here from another page that linked to this page 2013, the current link is this Cankerworms 2014.

June 7, 2013
My take on the cankerworm season is that it was spotty.  We have had a lot of rain since then and today the first Hurricane of the season hit Florida.  That storm met with a front coming in from the west and we got about 4 inches close to my home,  Sugar creek went over its banks.  In other words it has been very wet which is great for lots of trees and shrubs.

I point this out because three weeks after a large grove of willow oaks was totally defoliated by the fall cankerworm, the trees were back in full leaf.  If someone didn’t know that they had been stripped of all their foliage several weeks before, they would never know it happened.  This accentuates the point that I have made in the past that because of our long growing season, most of our trees are not adversely affected by the fall cankerworm.

Freedom Park is below my home and I have been watching the cherries  trees that are between the tennis courts and East Blvd.  The cankerworms love these cherry trees and they have been hit so hard for so many years that they are beginning to show lots of stress.  I think they are Yoshino cherries which have a fairly short life so that might be part of the problem.

If you had a bad infestation this year, then  you should plan to band or otherwise treat your trees next year.  Banding does work.  You might not see further post until the fall. Typically banding should be done around Thanksgiving, November 25th.  The leaves should be out of the trees and this is before the first really hard cold snap here.

May 1, 2013
April 7, 2013 was the date I saw the first cankerworm on my trap. I heard and saw some major defoliation on April 9th and then received a number of calls and e-mails about major infestations around the city. Now we are just at a month from my first sighting and the worms are almost gone.  I did see some minor feeding yesterday on small willow oak.  I got the general feeling that different areas got blasted at slightly different times.  It might be that people just started noticing the worms when they saw the defoliation.  Bottom line is that they seem to do their damage in about three weeks.

Where do they go next.  They move into the ground and stay there until fall.  Prepare to band.  I will post some
photos soon.

April 23, 2013
Besides what I posted on the home page for today, I observed another plant that seems to be a favorite of the cankerworm.  I have fragrant osmanthus in a shaded area under a medium sized willow oak.  I was quite surprised to see that the cankerworms were happily munching away at all the new foliate.  No other plants in the area were affected.  I have azaleas on which I would have expected them to be feeding.

Part of the reason that I am not seeing much damage is that I have banded my trees in the past, and several large ones willow oaks were removed from the area.

If you want to look at the bright side of this cankerworm infestation, your yard is getting a good natural dose of
natural fertilizer.  All this leave is being converted into cankerworm poop and is being evenly distributed to your lawn.

April 19th 2013, Also

It looks as if parts of Charlotte are seeing major infestations of the fall cankerworm.  Since we have had several years when the infestation appeared to be dying off, I would rarely get calls or e-mails.  This year is different.  I projected that we might have a pretty heavy infestation based on the number of cankerworms captured in my trap on 2011 (repeat 2011).  In 2012 there was a much greater number of insects going up the trees in the fall and winter and I am not surprised.  In My opinion, I think the effects of the spraying that was done in 2008 is wearing off, in that the
insect population is rebuilding.  For lots of details about the spraying of 2008, check this link.    

 I got an e-mail from a resident on Sardis Road who stated that the cankerworms are “horrendous! They are everywhere on every surface of my patio, my car, all my plants, etc.  At any one time you can see 40 - 50 worms dangling from the tree.  Now, I’ve been told that what looks like “poppy seeds” all over everything is actually cankerworm poop.  I am so grossed out and I can’t even go outside without being covered in worms and poop.

Help - is there anything I can do and how long will this last.”   I paraphrased the above quote a little, but this sums it up pretty well.

I am interested in the areas that are hit hard this year, and if you want to contact me please do so at  jack(remove this)@jackmcneary.com

In answer to the question about what to do now if you have  massive cankerworm activity, please refer to this link

April 19, 2013
The photo was taken on April 17th.  We have a full blown cankerworm infestation in several parts of Charlotte. 
First let me explain the photo below.  The brown arrow points to a cankerworm that has managed to get over the Tanglefoot (the glue that traps them).  Since November of 2012, almost six months the Tanglefoot becomes
ineffective.  Part of that is because some of the oils are absorbed into the Tar Paper.  Also dust and debris falls onto the trap and the Tanglefoot no longer traps the insects.

If you have this situation then you need to consider placing more Tanglefoot on the trap.  I refurbished my trap yesterday (April 18, 2013) since it was pretty obvious that some cankerworms could get above the band of Tanglefoot. 

cw-trap-2013_0618-low-res-3

April 10, 2013
Today is Wednesday and I went fishing last Thursday and got home on Sunday April 7th I returned. and I saw several very small cankerworms on the trap on my Willow Oak in the back yard.  As said before, I always see egg cases laid on the tar paper trap.  This egg case is out of focus on the top but you should get the idea.  These were laid in the fall and are a little darker in color now.  The cankerworms were about 1/16th of inch long on Sunday and today the one I saw was about 1/4 of an inch in length.  This same thing is happening in the trees and within a week we will start to see the insects on the ground, in our hair, and hanging from silken threads.  Once on the ground and hunting for food, they will climb anything hunting for something to eat.  They like azalea blooms, willow oak young leaves and buds.

    cw_eggs_6467lres    What they like to eat.

April 3, 2013
It has been a cool spring yet the willow oak buds and leaves seem to be bursting out.  I expect the fall cankerworms to hatch any time now.  Every year there are egg cases deposited on the traps.  Many of these eggs will hatch but the
cankerworms are very small and you will miss them if you do not look carefully.  The natural tendency seems to be
 for them to climb so these young ones will be caught in your trap.  There is nothing to eat on the lower part of your
trap where the eggs are laid so these insects never get more than about 1/16th of an inch long.

Keep your eyes open.  I expect more insects this year in my neighborhood.

March 21, 2013
Spring is late coming this year.  Only today did I see the forsythia in full bloom.  This is the time of year that we put
 down pre-emergent weed control chemicals.  The soil temperature needs to be at 55 degree for a couple of days before the first weeds of some of the grasses germinate.  I  imagine that the soil is still too cold for that to be the case.  More cool weather is expected, and I hear that Snow is forecast on Sunday for Davidson NC 30 minutes up the road.

This doesn’t seem like it would have much baring on cankerworms, but I suspect that the “Degree Days” is instrumental the hatching of the fall cankerworm.   Here is how it works.  When the young cankerworm hatches from its egg it needs something to feed upon.  This would typically be a young leaf or bud.  If the leaves are not out a little bit the insect starves.  Since tree need a certain number of  days above 50 degrees for it to form its leaves and buds, then the insect depends on the same thing. 

Usually I see the very young 1/16th of an inch green cankerworms the last week of March.  Keep your eyes open and if anyone wants to figure out the degree days the for this year when we first see the cankerworms, we can do that.  You will need to go back on the weather chart and see the maximum and minimum temperatures of all the days from January first.  Divide by two and subtract 50.  If the number is less than 50 it is not a degree day.  If it is more than 50 you have the degree day for that

 particular day.  We will add all of those up when the insect hatches and be able to predict more accurately the timing in future years.  Seems like a good little project to me.  Check out degree days and see if I told you correctly how to do it.  degree days

Last days of cankerworm migration for 2013

February 19 2013
Tuesday,  0 cankerworms today, total 573

February 18 2013
Monday,  0 cankerworms today, total 573

February 17 2013
Sunday,  0 cankerworms today, total 573
It does appear we are about finished.  Now is the time in the take a close look at your cankerworm trap or traps and consider if you need to add more Tanglefoot.  If the trap looks like this then plan to add more Tanglefoot.  Actually it won’t look exactly like this because this shot was taken after the cankerworms hatched in the spring.  The photo was taken in 2007 and what it shows is a very narrow band of Tanglefoot that is overrun with dead and trapped insects which allows the upward moving young caterpillars go up the through the band and on up the tree.  Each female insect that crawls to the upper branches and lays eggs can deposit 200 or more eggs.  It doesn’t take many insects to devour the young buds and leaves that will be coming out in early April.

Just slather some more Tanglefoot on top of the existing Tanglefoot or above it.  A band two or three inches wide should be enough unless you anticipate a very heavy infestation.   cw_bad_band_web 

February 16 2013
Saturday,  0 cankerworms today, total 573  

February 15 2013
Friday,  1 cankerworms today, total 573  

February 14 2013
Thursday,  0 cankerworms today, total  572 

February 13 2013
Wednesday,  2 cankerworms today, total 572  

February 12 2013
Tuesday,  3 cankerworms today, total  570 

February 11 2013
Monday,  0 cankerworms today, total  567 

February 10 2013
Sunday,   0 cankerworms today, total  567 

February 9 2013
Saturday,  2 cankerworms today, total  567 

February 8 2013
Friday,   0 cankerworms today, total  565 

February 7 2013
Thursday,  1 cankerworms today, total  565 

February 6 2013
Wednesday,  3 cankerworms today, total  564

February 5 2013
Tuesday,  5 cankerworms today, total 561 

February 4 2013
Monday,  5 cankerworms today, total 556 
In the past the cankerworms quit crawling in early February.  I believe it depends on the time they actually started crawling up the trees. If they start late, they end up stopping later in February.  I have also noticed that they will appear on one side of the tree earlier than on the other.  In my situation, they started on the warm side of the tree that was facing southeast.  Now there are non showing up there but they are coming up the north side of the tree.

Another thing I have observed this year is that my two inch band is a little too narrow.  I have had a lot of male insects get trapped on the Tanglefoot and with dead insects and the wings of the males, there is some “bridging” being done.  I have actually mashed a couple of insects that got across the narrow band of Tanglefoot.  I will make the band bigger because I know that in late March and Early April, I will want to trap the insects after they hatch.  Some will come down the tree and some will come from the ground up.

February 3 2013
Sunday, 7 cankerworms today, total 551

February 2 2013
Saturday,  5 cankerworms today, total 544

February 1 2013
Friday,  6 cankerworms today, total 539

January 31 2013
Thursday,  4 cankerworms today, total 533
Today I actually counted 32 cankerworms.  I have been out of town and was a little surprised there was not a larger count.  What I do when I do have to be gone us divide the number of worms trapped by the number of days when I could not count.  I most interested in the total count and that will remain the same.

January 30 2013
Wednesday, 4  cankerworms today, total 529

January 29 2013
Tuesday,  4 cankerworms today, total 525

January 28 2013
Monday,  4 cankerworms today, total 521

January 27 2013
Sunday,  4 cankerworms today, total 517

January 26 2013
Saturday,  4 cankerworms today, total 513

January 25 2013
Friday,  4 cankerworms today, total 509

January 24 2013
Thursday, 4 cankerworms today, total 505

January 23 2013
Wednesday, 6  cankerworms today, total 501
Quit cold today 16 degrees early am.

January 22, 2013
Tuesday, 26  cankerworms today, total 495  ?

January 21, 2013
Monday, 20  cankerworms today, total 469

January 20, 2013
Sunday, 37  cankerworms today, total 449
Saturday and Sunday were both beautiful winter days.  It was below freezing in the early morning but low 60s and sunny in the afternoon.  From past experience those seem to be the days the insects move a great deal.  Extreme cold and very wet weather slows them down.   I also have observed that they tend to be most numerous on the side of the tree that gets early morning sun.  As the season progresses they come up in greater numbers on the rest of the tree, but early in the season I have always found them on the side that gets the sun first.

January 19, 2013
Saturday, 32  cankerworms today, total  412

January 18, 2013
Friday,  7 cankerworms today, total  380

January 17, 2013
Thursday,  0 cankerworms today, total 373
 It rained pretty hard all day.  Had 4 inches of rain in my rain gauge.

January 16, 2013
Wednesday,  5 cankerworms today, total 373
For some reason I did not record accurate numbers from Wednesday.  It was a small number and probably not significant in the total numbers, but nevertheless is an error.  I mash the bugs on the trap and sometimes I might mistakenly count a cankerworm that I did not adequately mash the previous day.  I am not sure I have ever done that but the thought has crossed my mind.  The insects roll  up in the Tanglefoot when it is warm and so look different from a healthy one that has not stepped into the gooey stuff.

January 15, 2013
Tuesday,  03 cankerworms today, total  368

January 14, 2013
Monday,   4 cankerworms today, total 365

January 13, 2013
Sunday,    4 cankerworms today, total 361

January 12, 2013
Saturday,   9  cankerworms today, total 357

January 11, 2013
Friday,   11 cankerworms today, total 348

January 10, 2013
Thursday, 18  cankerworms today, total 337

January 9, 2013
Wednesday, 30 cankerworms today, total 319
Last year on the same date, I had captured only 180 female cankerworms.  The total captured for the year was 308 so we will be higher this year.  Many years ago before the cankerworm became a problem in Charlotte, I read a statement from a book that was published somewhere in the North East.  This article said that if you had 40 insects a year it was considered a major infestation.  I always thought that was an interesting statement.   On the bright side, our growing season is longer than many parts of the US and Canada so our trees have a greater chance of recovering from an early defoliation or partial defoliation.  Keep your trees healthy, band them if you can, make sure they have ample of water in case we go into a drought situation.

January 8, 2013
Tuesday,  13 cankerworms today, total 289

January 7, 2013
Monday , 9 cankerworms today, total 276

January 6, 2013
Sunday, 92 cankerworms today, total 267
Alarming number of cankerworms today.  The month of January should be a big month. 

January 5, 2013
Saturday, 37 cankerworms today, total 175
I was surprised to see 37 worms today.  Last year there were a total 121 on Jan 5th.   December 15th was the first day for seeing cankerworms in 2012, December 9 was the first day for seeing them in 2011.  Later start and more worms ...one would expect the number to be a more numerous year.

January 4, 2013
Friday, 4 cankerworms today, total of 138

January 3, 2013
Thursday, 6 cankerworms today, total of 134

January 2, 2013
Wednesday, 12 cankerworms today, total of 128
Today, there were 12 cankerworm even though we had rain for a large portion of last night and early today. Temperature yesterday and today is in the fifties.  Cold weather is coming.

January 1, 2013
The cankerworms brought me a surprise this first day of the New Year.  I usually check the insect count in the morning ... usually sometime between 7:30 and 11:00 AM.  Yesterday was clear, cold and what seemed to me from past experience a good day for the cankerworms to be spreading warmth and good cheer for the coming 2013.  As stated below there were none, zero, zip.  I checked the trees early about 7:00 yesterday and today at 11:00.  I found 35 female cankerworms.
Tuesday, 35 cankerworms today, total of 116

December 31, 2012
Monday,  0 cankerworms today, total 81
Yesterday, I was surprised that there were only 5 cankerworms, today I was even more surprised to find none. Today seemed the perfect day to have a good count.  Last night was clear with a full moon and the temperature got down to 

December 30, 2012
Sunday, 5 cankerworms today, total 81

December 29, 2012
Saturday, 6 cankerworms today, total 76

December 28, 2012
Friday, 10 cankerworms today, total 70

December 27, 2012
Thursday, 8 cankerworms today, total 60
That is actually a total for the 25th and 26th also.  When I am out of town, I usually make an adjustment by dividing the number of days into the count number.  In this case it is a small number so I will just add them for today’s totals.  Since there were so many on December 24th I expected a large number. I was guessing between 30 and 50 new cankerworms.  Some years ago when these migrations started around November 24th or about Thanksgiving, I counted over 100 cankerworms on Christmas Day, December 25th.

December 26, 2012
Wednesday, 0 cankerworms today, total 52

December 25, 2012
Tuesday, 0 cankerworms today, total 52

December 24, 2012
Monday, 23 cankerworms today, total 52. 
Things are really cranking up.  I am surprised to see this much activity.

December 23, 2012
Sunday, 7 cankerworms today, total 29. 
It was below freezing at 29 degrees this morning.  ... clear and pretty cold about 50 degrees high.  I observed a few city trees today along the road that had about 20 insects in their traps.  This is interesting because last year there were not over 50 insects trapped from these trees all season long.  Here in December those trees have about as much activity as my tree does.  We might have a pretty serious year.  If you haven’t trapped, then you should still do so.

December 22, 2012
Saturday 3 cankerworms today total 22
Low this morning was 29.  Ice in the bird bath.

December 21, 2012
Friday 9 cankerworms today total 19. 
It looks like the cankerworms are on the move.  It was somewhat rainy yesterday and today is blustery and temperature mid day is 47 degrees. Low was 37. There is still time to put up traps because it is probably 20 days until the peak migration.  Every insects you can trap means potentially 200 less insects in the tree in the spring.  There have been trees in the past that have trapped 5000 or 8000 insects in a single season.  Refer back to past history in the sidebar to the left.

December 20, 2012
Thursday 3 cankerworms today total 10

December 19, 2012
Wednesday 2 cankerworms today total 7

December 18, 2012
Tuesday 2 cankerworms today total 5

December 17, 2012
Monday 0 cankerworms today or yesterday total 3
We had light rain early yesterday and in the evening 1.5 inches here.  Rain usually keeps the insects from climbing. Expect more for tomorrow.

December 16, 2012
Sunday, 0 cankerworms
0 cankerworms today total 3

December 15, 2012
Two cankerworms today total of 3
Here we go, first real sighting for 2012.
It was 38 degrees this morning and I found two female cankerworms on my trap.  This is the real thing. I still think the sighting last Saturday was an anomaly but it still was a cankerworm. 
(see photos below)

We did not get the real cold snap I expected but it did get to 27 degrees yesterday and I think that was enough to bring them out.  Since It is always a little warmer here then where the weather station is, I need to evaluate my idea as to how cold it has to be for the cankerworms to start moving..  My low recording for the year has been 29.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which was recorded yesterday when the official temperature was 27 degrees.

Here are two photos of one of the insects captured today.   cw-1436_12152012_0383

Note on the enlarged photo that there is a cottony like material between the segments on the back.  I mentioned this on an earlier photo where I thought the insect seemed different than our typical female cankerworm.  See December 11th report

As stated before there are many different species of cankerworms, and if you look up photos of them on the Internet, you will see the variations.

cw-1436-enlarged-0383

December 14, 2012
Friday, The recorded weather low today was 27 degrees but at my home in the heart of the city the temperature reached a low of 32.  A small bird bath nearby had some ice. Another bird bath that happens to be under a dogwood tree with a larger volume of water showed no ice.   Where that leads us is that it is definitely warmer in the city than further out in the county during the winter and likewise in the summer it is the reverse.

In recent years the first day for the infestation was on  Dec. 6, 16, 22, 19, 9.  You can see that it varies a good bit and that we are close to seeing the start.   Personally, I think it is smart to get the Tanglefoot on after the leaves drop and in my experience the migration does not start until after most of the leaves are down.  This year I put up the Tanglefoot well before the leaves dropped and did have to remove about a dozen leaves.  That is until the leaf blower came around.  Now the trap on one side is covered with leaves and leaf debris.

December 11, 2012
Today, Tuesday, was cold and windy, however the low was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the early morning.  Not cold enough IMO to bring on the cankerworms.  On this past Saturday, Marcos Bentencort, one of my friends who is a tree climber called and said he had seen the first cankerworm in Charlotte.  I was out of town at the time and when I got home on Sunday, I found an insect caught in the trap that looked like it might be a female cankerworm but something about it does not look right to me.  See photos below.

cw_maybealso_0366cw_dec12_0342_edited-1

Above are the photos of the same insect.  Note the segments on the back are fuzzy looking in the photo on the left. On the right is the insect while it was still on the trunk.  It also looks as if it might be laying eggs.  The egg clusters I have seen in the past have been deposited rather uniformly.  IMO, this might be another type of cankerworm.  There are many.  I still think it is too early from them.  Here is photo from several years ago that I took.

 csfemale_good_3668

I will post some other photos of the insect I photographed on Tuesday in a few days here  cw2012 early sightings

December 2, 2012
We have not had enough cold weather to see any cankerworm activity.  We have seen some activity with the companies that put up the traps for the worms.  Most of the contractor for the city have put up the tar paper and will come around a little later and apply the Tanglefoot.  These contractors are acting according to the guidelines of the city of Charlotte, however there are some other individuals who have their thoughts on what cankerworm traps should look like and what should be the materials used. 

I have expressed myself a number of times on what works for me as an individual.  I don’t like the idea of putting the tremendous volume of tarpaper and Tanglefoot that we use every year in the various landfills around the city.  There might be better ways.  I presently wrap only one tree in my yard and I do use the Tanglefoot.  It is easier for me to see and count the cankerworms.  If I have to band other trees because I think the invasion will intensify, then I use Plastic Wrap.
Take a look at the article written by Don Brokelheide in the Charlotte Observer on November 30th.

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/11/30/3693023/holiday-tree-decorations-fight.html

I find one serious flaw with Larry Melenchamps idea on using Duct Tape.  He puts three to four wraps of Duct Tape around the tree and paints on  thin small band of Tanglefoot.  That will work in a year when we have a minor infestation, but if the infestation is as many as 5000 cankerworms as it was in the Spring of 2007, the trap will be overwhelmed.

I use a small band of one to two inches (its hard to make a one inch band of Tanglefoot) on my traps during the early part of the season.  This is a test band just to see what the infestation will be like.  For the past several years, I have not bothered to band the rest of my trees, simply because I felt the infestation would be very light.... and it was.

Larry’s band will dry out by late March although the plastic wrap will absorb less of the oils from the Tanglefoot than the Tarpaper.  Most of the bands I see in the spring will have lots of dust, dirt, and insects and leaves in them and need to be replenished.

I do agree trying to do the job inexpensively is a goal.  That is one reason I started using a rolled up section of the newspaper and loosely fastening it to the trunk with a few staples.  I always take out the staples in April when I remove the trap.  The very small hole they make in the outer bark will not damage the tree.  At lease I have not seen any problems from staples in the 20 plus years I have been researching this problem.  Here is a photo of a trap that was left up too long.  It is in Freedom Park and I believe put on last Fall (2011).
 

 

 

November 27, 2012
Today, Tuesday, the early morning temperature was about 50 degrees and it was much the same all day with a threat of rain.  We need it.  The preceding cold is not enough to bring out the cankerworms.  This is about the time we used to see the worms but as things have gotten warmer the date is more likely in December.  I will not report everyday, only when we have a really good cold snap or actually see some cankerworms.

November 26, 2012
The Cankerworm migration might start soon.  Yesterday, November 25th the low temperature was 24 degrees Fahrenheit.  Today on the Monday November 26th, the low was 29 degrees for Charlotte.  From past records it appears that the female cankerworms start to crawl up the trees when we have several days in a row where the temperature drops below 28 degrees.

In honor of this cold snap, I put up my cankerworm trap on one tree in my yard.  I also put Tanglefoot around the tar paper even though all the leaves have not dropped.  I suspect I will have to pull several leaves out as they continue to fall.  I estimate that 90 percent of the leaves are gone from my lone willow oak in the area.  I have been tracking this cankerworm situation since the late 1980s. 

Interestingly, at that time (Hurricane Hugo 1989) I had four large willow oaks in the back yard and only one is left.  In the front yard I had four willow oaks, one which was a street tree.  The street tree willow oak fell all the way across the street and had branches resting on the sidewalk on the far side of the street.  Our street has 13 foot planting strips, plus an island median in between the north and south bound lanes.  The total distance 96 feet. I measured this with a measuring wheel.

I had to remove two of the large willow oaks in the front yard this year (2012).

All the other trees in the yard succumbed to root rot.  In a 20 year period, I have gone from having eight trees to having only two left.  Each of the trees were willow oaks, and all of them were planted as part of the original landscape plan of John Nolen 1911.  The trees which were of various sizes were around twelve inches in diameter were delivered by a mule driven cart to each planting hole.  Not all of the trees were planted the same year but it is unreasonable to expect that considering the age of the trees at the time of planting they are right at 100 years old now.

November 13, 2012
Cabarrus County is heavily infested with Cankerworms. On October 2, 2012 I gave a presentation in Concord to the Master Gardener Volunteers of Cabarrus County.  There were over 75 people who attended which indicates there is a great deal of concern about the cankerworms.  The meeting went well I thought, and I was able to answer a lot of their questions.  I had seen this infestation developing for several years as I saw trees as I was driving down I 85 that appeared to be defoliated.  Also, it took several years for the infestations in Charlotte to become really serious.  Whole neighborhoods looked like winter time in Mid April.  We have lots of willow oaks, and when they all have no leaves it is pretty alarming.

Banding works, and we also have a long growing season so most trees will come back on their own.  Unusual weather can exacerbate the problem such as a prolonged drought, so we all need to become better educated about the cankerworm problem.

The new Cankerworm season is almost upon us.

In the past around the 25th of November was when we saw the first emergence of the female fall cankerworm.  In recent years the first sightings have been up to a month later.  With our erratic weather I won’t make a prediction as to when they will start moving, but it will take about three days of cold weather dipping into the high twenties.

Once we arrive at the first of the year, I will start a new page for 2012-2013 and maintain a duplication of the sightings from November of December or whenever they start.

Meanwhile, I was a little surprised last Spring (2012) at the number of insects trapped in my own yard as compared to the numbers I was seeing on street trees in Myers Park, Dilworth, and Eastover.  Last year there were some hot spots especially in Cabarrus County.

April 18, 2012
I could have taken down my trap two weeks ago but just got around to it  today.  I did one thing this year that worked out pretty well.  Instead of using something that I had to purchase (batting material) I rolled up sections of newspaper about 2 inches across.  I stapled these to the tree and then put my tar paper over it.   Worked well and saved a few bucks.

April 2, 2012
We are definitely several weeks ahead of what I would say would be normal cankerworm sightings.  In the past I have noticed different colored cankerworms in the spring.  This year I am seeing some very large green cankerworms and also some which are  a little smaller.  I have photos but will have to post them a little later.  Going fishing tomorrow.   The Yoshino cherry trees that are at East Blvd. in front of the Tennis courts at Freedom Park have quite a number of cankerworms.  There are about 10 trees there and several are heavily defoliated.  In looking at the trees to see the actual worms I saw the typical green one but also a dark gray stripped cankerworm.  This latter one appeared to be a lot smaller.  I have often felt, or better, wondered if the different color was based on what the young worm was eating.    I will look further and post photos later.

 

March 26, 2012
I have seen quite a few cankerworms hanging by their silken threads.  In general Myers Park and the inner city neighborhoods so have a little activity. I have heard but not see Selwyn Avenue but it sounds like some trees there are being defoliated.

From past postings you can read that I captured 308 female cankerworms and that is a moderately high number.  I will be interested to see if similar trees in my yard that were not banded suffer from much defoliation.  Remember that we have a long growing season and some defoliation is OK.  Also the cankerworm is a naturally occurring critter and we have had them for years and prior to Hurricane Hugo they were not an issue.

Certain parts of Charlotte have had heavy infestations but not many people are reporting to me.  Check back after I have had time to see the extent of defoliation.

March 19, 2012  Cankerworms are back.
Last week I checked a few trees and found none.  In the past I have been able to look on the trap and found baby cankerworms about 1/4 of and inch long.  These would just have emerged and are out looking for food.  Usually this has been in the last week of March and it is a week or so before we see the young cankerworms crawling up the trunks and getting caught in the traps put outlast fall.

Looks like they came out the middle of last week since I found a great number on a street tree several houses away that were a good 3/4 of an inch long to 1 inch.  These worms have already done some feeding and dropped to the ground and are now going up the trunks in search of more food.  

Last week when I looked up into the willow oaks I could see new foliage and buds and thought the should be showing up any time.  My first sighting for 2012 is March 19, 2012.  I think this is two to three weeks earlier than past sightings.

February 22, 2012
I spoke with David Goforth who is the County Agent in Cabarrus County which is east of Charlotte.  He says that he personally has not seen many trees affected by the cankerworms, but he has received many reports.  One arborist stated that one tree he had worked with had thousands of insects on the trap.  So if that is the case then in certain areas the infestation must be as bad as it was in 2006 here.

Spring will tell, or are we already there.  It was 73 degrees in Charlotte today about 3:00 PM.

 February 18, 2012 Saturday
The fall migration is over.  We will see the insects emerge as small caterpillars the last days or March.  Although it is possible that our strange warm winter weather will provoke an early hatch.  Keep your traps up and prepare to slather them with some Tanglefoot in the spring.  

In the spring, as the insects start to feed, many will end up on the ground and will travel upward to find young leaves and buds to eat.  Your trap can catch a sizable number of insects. This photo is not the usual method of trapping insects in the Spring but it does show thousands of insets. The homeowner placed Duct Tape backwards on his willow oak.cw_trap_lilac_2629_web


Even if you have a Bug Barrier trap and have a heavy infestation the traps might need more sticky material.  From past experience the Tanglefoot and other glues that capture the insects in the early fall will be full of debris, dust, or just plain dried out.  You can tell by touching whatever type of glue you have on your trap.  If it’s pretty sticky OK, if not go get a one pound container of Tanglefoot and apply some to the trap.  If you do not use it all, the Tanglefoot will be good next season.

February 17, 2012 Friday  
0 cankerworms today  total for season is 308

February 16, 2012 Thursday  
0 cankerworms today  total for season is 308

February 15, 2012 Wednesday  
1 cankerworms today  total for season is 308

February 14, 2012 Tuesday  
2 cankerworms today  total for season is 307

February 13, 2012 Monday  
0 cankerworms today  total for season is 305

February 12 2012 Sunday  
0 cankerworms today  total for season is 305

February 11, 2012 Saturday  
1 cankerworms today  total for season is 305

February 10, 2012 Friday  
2 cankerworms today  total for season is 304
Seems to me we are getting close to the end.  If we use the figure of 300 female cankerworms getting to the top of the tree and each one laying 200 eggs we should have a fairly good idea of the amount of feeding that would take place in April.  Some insects will be eaten by birds and maybe there are predators that will eat some eggs.  Several years ago I counted the number of eggs in one cluster and there were about 300 eggs.  I feel that 200 is a convenient number and this overall report is trying to spot trends.  Anyway you slice it, 200  x 300 = 60,000 insects munching on tender buds and young leaves could do severe damage to a tree.  

February 9, 2012 Thursday  
0 cankerworms today  total for season is 302

February 8, 2012 Wednesday  
2 cankerworms today  total for season is 302

February 7, 2012 Tuesday  
1 cankerworms today  total for season is 300

February 6, 2012 Monday 
 3 cankerworms today  total for season is 299

 February 5, 2012 Sunday  
 2 cankerworms today  total for season is 296

February 4, 2012 Saturday  
1 cankerworms today  total for season is 294

February 3, 2012 Friday  
1 cankerworms today  total for season is 293

February 3, 2012 Friday  
1 cankerworms today  total for season is 292

  February 2, 2012 Thursday  
3 cankerworms today  total for season is 291
The number of cankerworms is diminishing.  In years past the cankerworms finished their migration in early March,; however, with the strange weather we have been having I hate to make a prediction.  Today along the Queens Road, I saw a daffodil bed about 80 feet long in full bloom.   Daffodils are supposed to be a spring time flower..

February 1, 2012   Wednesday  
5 cankerworms today  total for season is 288

 

January 31, 2012 Tuesday  
3 cankerworms today  total for season is 283

 January 30, 2012 Monday  
 2 cankerworms today  total for season is 280

January 29, 2012 Sunday
2 cankerworms today  total for season is 278

January 28, 2012 Saturday
11 cankerworms today  total for season is 276

January 27, 2012 Friday
3 cankerworms today  total for season is 265

January 26, 2012 Thursday
10 cankerworms today  total for season is 262
I suspect that the worms do not like a cold wet bark.  Since they mostly climb at night, if is is wet, foggy etc. as it has been here for a few days the counts are low.  After that weather changes and it clears and dries a little, we will often see a larger number of female cankerworms..

January 25, 2012 Wednesday
4  cankerworms today  total for season is 252

January 24, 2012 Tuesday
2  cankerworms today  total for season is 248

January 23, 2012 Monday
 0  cankerworms today  total for season is 246

January 22, 2012 Sunday
 3 cankerworms today  total for season is 246

January 20, 2012 Friday
 3 cankerworms today  total for season is 243

January 19, 2012 Thursday
 5 cankerworms today  total for season is 240
I saw a tree on Kings Drive that had a lot of worms in it.  Of course that would be the total for the year.  So far, I think this is moderately severe year.  Since I have not banded my other trees, it will be interesting to see how much damage will be done to those not banded.  I will photograph.

January 18, 2012 Wednesday
 14 cankerworms today  total for season is 235

January 17, 2012 Tuesday
 11 cankerworms today  total for season is 221

January 16, 2012 Monday
 1 cankerworms today  total for season is 210

January 15, 2012 Sunday
 4   cankerworms today  total for season is 209

January 14, 2012 Saturday
 4 cankerworms today  total for season is 205

January 13, 2012 Friday
 14 cankerworms today  total for season is 201
Clean and cold in the low 30s this morning. I also had a report that is lots of activity on Eastway drive and Shamrock.

January 12, 2012 Thursday
4 cankerworms today  total for season is 187

 January 11, 2012 Wednesday
 1 cankerworms today  total for season is 183
I attended the Charlotte Arborist Association meeting yesterday evening and got some feed back from several members who are from all around the Charlotte / Mecklenburg area.  As I suspected there are continuing problems in Cabarrus County as well as problems in Gastonia.

As far as Charlotte proper is concerned.  Steve Ketner who is in charge of the cankerworm issues for the city says that close to town areas like Myers Park, Dilworth, Eastover have very little activity.  There are some serious issues further out.  To name a few:  Landsdown, Highland Park, Plot Road, Rama Road off Monroe Road.  If you live or work in an area around Charlotte send an e-mail and let me know what you observe concerning cankerworms.

As many of you know aerial spraying was done a number of times in Charlotte proper.  It was very evident that it was successful.  The area we are now seeing cankerworms in were not an issue back in 2008, but it seems the cankerworms have expanded their territory. 

In general the insects have moved with the wind in a north easterly direction    Last season my total count was 59 female cankerworms.  Already this year we have 183 insects and have over a month to go.  I would suspect that problems will increase next year.  

January 10, 2012 Tuesday
 2 cankerworms today  total for season is 182
Interesting to me that the captured worms are dropping off dramatically.  I thought that today would be a big day since it did not rain yesterday so the trunk was not wet or too cold.  My gut feeling is that they like to move on days from 30 degree F. 60 degrees when it is clear.  I stopped off to look at a number of other city and private trees yesterday and about the maximum number of female cankerworms that I see is 30.  The normal range I am seeing is 6 to 15.   That’s the total accumulation.

January 9, 2012  Monday
 4 cankerworms today  total for season is 180

January 8, 2012
5 cankerworms today  total for season is 176

January 7, 2012
25 cankerworms today  total for season is 171
This is getting to be a pretty big number.  Since each female can lay 200 eggs or more, that means potentially 34,200 eggs and in the spring 34,000 small insects.  Once they hatch in late March or early April they will start munching on the small leaves and buds.

The strange thing to me is that I am still not seeing many worms on nearby trees.  If you are in the Charlotte NC area and are seeing large infestations, please let me know.  jmcneary (remove this bracket)@gmail.com
 

Since last season was a very slow year for the cankerworms here, and the insects got off to a slow start, I  felt that we would have a low infestation.  I might be wrong.  So if you have additional trees to band, and if you are seeing similar or larger numbers than I am, plan to band your remaining trees.

January 6, 2012
24 cankerworms today  total for season is 146
I was a little late today checking the trap around 6:00 PM which might account for the large number.  As said before most of the cankerworms were coming up the shady side of the tree.  temperature got to about 60 degrees which is quite different from the 15 to 17 degrees in some parts of town and in the county.  It is always a little warmer in the down town and heavily treed parts of town.

I hope the migration tapes off.  What is misleading is that I have seen very few cankerworms on city trees.  The totals for many of the trees I have look at are 10 to 20 for the entire season.  I am studying my statistics from past years

January 5, 2012
18 cankerworms today  total for season is 122

January 4, 2012
2 cankerworms today  total for season is 104
Quite cold today.  It was 23 degrees when I went out early this morning.  I expected more cankerworms since there was such an increase yesterday.

January 3, 2012
13 cankerworms today  total for season is 102

It was 25 degrees in the early morning about 8:00 am.  I was surprised to see so many cankerworms.  I also check late in the evening and four 2 cankerworms which I will not include until tomorrow Wednesday January 4th.  I have found in the past that the female cankerworms seem to prefer climbing the tree at night.

January 2, 2012
15 cankerworms today  total for season is 89

January 1, 2012
2 cankerworms today  total for season is 74
Fall 2011  starts on this link.  You can go back to previous seasons by following the links on the left sidebar.

Since it is still early in the season and usually January is the month we see the most activity I’m a little hesitant to make too bold a prediction as to how the season will continue.  I am seeing a good bit more activity than 2010/2011 and hardly any cankerworms on city and park trees. 

I have been compiling the data from several years and will post a spreadsheet with this information so you can make your own conclusions.  If we do not see a major increase in 10 days, then I think no further banding this year is necessary.  Realize that I am talking about the area near where I live which is in the Dilworth and Myers Park area.  If anyone is seeing a severe outbreak, let me know. 

End of page for 2012

 

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