What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Their Aging Trees

Where did all the Cankerworms go in the spring of 2019


 Cankerworm Page

I have removed this page from the active web site but I see it still pops up on the internet.  Please go to Cankerworm 1010/2011 to start    Also I have found that even though the pages are updated, when using an iphone or Droid, the pages that are found are often several days old.  In orther words, it is better to access the site from a computer.


Below is old information

Since this is a new setup up you will find the pages not very uniform.  The data should all be there. 

I have started a new page as of February 14, 2010.  If you want to see what happened in the fall of 2009 and early winter of 2010 click on the link to the left  (Fall 2009).

All the links will take you back to earlier history of the cankerworms.  Basically the data starts with Cankerworm 2007/2008.

If you know nothing about cankerworms, go to this link Cankerworm introduction
Do you want to know about the best methods for banding your trees   Banding
What trees do the cankerworms prefer

Cankerworm Information for Fall / Winter of 2009 / to February 14, 2010

This page has gotten pretty long and contains the information for the fall 2009 and early winter 2009 migration of the cankerworm.  From here the new link for information will be  Winter Spring 2010  Click on the link.

February 13, 2010 0

February 12, 2010 0

February 11, 2010  1 cankerworm   Surprising to day the one cankerworm had crossed the narrow band on the Tarpaper.  As I have said in the past this year I only put up one trap with a narrow of Tanglefoot.  The band of sticky stuff is about two inches wide, but where this cankerworm got past was 1.5 inches.    Tanglefoot tends to dry up after it has been on the tree for several months, so it is not too surprising that the Tanglefoot is less sticky.

February 10, 2010 1 cankerworm  I have attached a small spread sheet here for the number of insects captured daily during the month of February in 2007.  That was an unusual year but from the chart you can tell that around the 20th of the month was the last sighting.

February 9, 2010 3 cankerworms   I skipped 6 days because I was out of town in Roanoke with 10 or more inches of snow.  I was not too surprised to see just 3 female cankerworms.  I think the migration is almost over.

A number of people have asked me when can we take down the bands.  If the bands are tarpaper and Tanglefoot, leave them up until spring to catch the cankerworms that will try to climb the tree again.  You will need to replenish the Tanglefoot but more about that later.

Yesterday I stopped in Black Hawk Hardware store.  A few months ago they told me how much tar paper they had sold to homeowners and I suppose businesses for the purpose of banding trees.  The amount is staggering to me and it is a shame that we have to fill our landfills up with tar paper and Tanglefoot.  Also I suppose a lot of the Bug Barrier is going to the landfills.  Hopefully, the cankerworms will cease to be an issue.  I am gambling in that I have only banded one tree out of five this season.  Black Hawk sold 72,563 feet of tar paper in 2009 and early 2010.

February 4, 2010 2 cankerworms  We are supposed to get some nasty weather tomorrow so I do not expect many cankerworms to move up the trunk.  Most seasons the migration has stopped by this time in February.

February 3, 2010 3 cankerworms

February 2, 2010 1 cankerworm

February 1, 2010 0   For the past few days we have had snow / ice on the ground under the tree.  I took a photo that I will post later that shows how it is melting.  This is definitely the warm side of the tree and I always have the first cankerworms come up on this side and as the season progresses, the come up further around the tree.

January 31, 2010  0 cankerworms today

January 30, 2010 0 cankerworms today

January 29, 2010 0 cankerworms today

January 28, 2010  7 cankerworms today

January 27, 2010 11 Over the years I have observed that the insects first start showing up on the south side of the tree.  This has been the case this year.  I am starting to see the backside insects more frequently.  Also early in the season, the insects were quite large and fat, a symbol of health.  Now, most of the female cankerworms are small.

January 26,2010 8   202 plus 44 equals   246  This is still a small number

January 25, 2010 13        7

January 24, 2010  5         0

January 23 2010  2

January 22, 2010 3

January 21, 2010 5

January 20, 2010 13  In the last   8 (eight) days there have been 59 insects trapped. Up to that point there were a total of 42.  I am disturbed by the recent numbers but still do not plan to band my other trees.  Am I being lazy or is this a scientific experiment.  I am curious to see what kind of damage I will have in my other trees since a total of 202 insects have been trapped.  By the January 28, 2009 there were 1289 insects captured which is quite a bit more than our 202.  Even worse is 2008 where we had captured 4944 insects in more or less the same time frame.

If each female lays 200 eggs, that is 4040 insects.  Seems to me that number can do a lot of damage.  Maybe the birds will have learned that the young worms are good to eat.  In the majority of cases you will have banded already or not banded at all.  Definitely we are see an upward trend. 

January 19, 2010 5

January 18, 2010 3  With the count yesterday, maybe I need to band the rest of the trees in my yard.   Shortly I will try to compare this years slow start with previous years to see where we are.  More information to come.

January 17, 2010  25 cankerworms today --- Below is a female cankerworm and an egg mass.  A female laid these eggs several weeks ago and this female just happened to be crawling by close to the eggs.  There are over 200 eggs on the tar paper.... (not counted)


January 16, 2010 8 cankerworms today

January 15, 2010 5 cankerworms today

January 14, 2010 0 cankerworms today

January 13 2010  1 cankerworm today

January 12, 2010 0 cankerworms today 

Check here for a spreadsheet about cankerworm count

January 11, 2010  2 cankerworms today

January 10, 2010  2 cankerworms today.  It is Sunday and it has been in the 20’s daily for a week or so.  It is supposed to go to 14 degrees. F tonight.

January 9, 2010 12 cankerwormDoes this jump in numbers mean something or did the cold weather just cause a delay in the number of cankerworm?  If you add this twelve number to the insects to the 17 day total mentioned below, so far it does not dramatically change  I still think the number of cankerworms will be low.  I think that part of what makes me say this is the late date when they first started up the trees.  I am predicting a slow year but we will see.

January 8, 2010  0 cankerworms

January 7, 2010 1 cankerworm

My original idea was that if I looked at the number of insects trapped for the first few weeks of the season for several years back, I would have pretty good idea as to what to predict.  It turns out that does not seem to be a good predictor of what might happen.  Below are a few statistics for the first 17 days after the insects started going up the trees.

It almost looks like the reverse is happening ....It appears that the 288 captured in the fall of 2008 would have predicted a very active year for cankerworms   That did not prove to be the case.  Even though we have had some very cold weather for the last few days and it is supposed to be in the 20’s for another week, my gut feeling is that this will be a slow year.  So far I have only banded one of my five trees.

We shall see what happens for the next 20 days.  January is always one of our busiest months to observe cankerworm activity.

The information below is valid up to January 7, 2010

                                                                                    yearly total 
Dec/Jan 2009/2010  26 insects captured                       undetermined           

Dec/Jan 2008/2009 288 insects captured                      1364

Dec/Nov 2007/2008    18 insects captured                      2522  

Nov/Dec 2006/2007    26 insects captured                     5941



January 6, 2010  0 cankerworms

January 5, 2010 0 cankerworms

January 4, 2010 0 cankerworms today

January 3, 2010  1 cankerworm today

January 2, 2010  2 cankerworms today

January 1, 2010  7 cankerworms today .... it was fairly cold today, high was about 45 overcast until very late and then wind and temperature drop.  The next two week are to be in the low 20s which is pretty cold around here.

December 31, 2009   8 cankerworms today  About this time of year people start to ask me if it is too late to band the trees.  The answer is no for this year. 

Today it was a surprise to see 8 cankerworms.  Things are speeding up.

The worst infestation we have had was in the fall of 2006.  I counted the worms but can not put my hands on the daily totals.  I believe the migration started about the middle of November that year and by the end of the month or approximately fifteen days 26 insects had gone up the tree.  This year I have had 7 after ten days. 

1st ten days after migration has started.

    2009   7 cankerworms  Then on today there were 8.  A little hard to predict what the next 10 days will do.
    2008   13 cankerworms
    2007   4 cankerworms
    2006   (I am looking for these numbers.)

     I will provide more information here.


December 30,2009  0 cankerworms today

December 29,2009  1 cankerworm trapped today

December 28,2009   0 cankerworms in trap

December 27, 2009  Two cankerworms trapped today.

December 26, 2009  0 cankerworms today.

Christmas day December 25, 2009, 1 cankerworm This is the day it rained.  It would not surprise me if we got 3 inches of rain.  Lots of bad weather in the central USA.  Glad we missed the snow.  Even at that I had two cankerworms on the trap this evening after dark.  They probably crawled up late since it rained until late in the afternoon.

December 24, 2009  follow up   I was over on Eastway Drive earlier this morning around 11:00 PM.  I looked at two trees.  One had 13 cankerworms on the trap and the other had 18.    This is a  cumulative count but appears to be much greater than I have found in the Myers Park Area.  The significance  is that the severity of the cankerworm population will vary across town.

December 24, 2009 0 Cankerworms This morning it is again about 30 degrees in the early morning.  The official temperature this morning was 27.  It is always a little warmer in town, and part of that is that the many trees we have heave tend to dampen the effects of the cold.  I have two street trees close by that the city has banded with Tanglefoot.  One of those trees had 3 insects total and the other 5 insects total since the cankerworms started crawling on December 22.  My tree has had only one insect on it from the 22nd.  I expect more and have been monitoring the same tree for quite a few years.

If this is the first time you have looked at this site, then continue downward to the 12th of September which is the date I started posting information for this season.

The links to the left on the sidebar will take you to previous seasons.  If you have any specific questions, you can E-mail me at  jmcneary(remove this)@gmail.com


December 23, 2009   0 Cankerworms Still cold below freezing in the morning.  I did not discover any new cankerworms on my trap this morning.  However, I looked at two city trees, and one had two cankerworms on it and the other three.  I will keep track of them also for a few weeks until I decide that it does not matter any more what the other trees do.  I will continue to track my single tree through January.  As I have stated further down if the migration appears to significant then I will band the other trees in my yard.   If the migration is very light or not at all, then I will not band the other trees.

December 22, 2009 24 degrees at 7:30 am    First cankerworm caught in trap.  See below.


December 21, 2009  no activity

Temperature 27 to 50 degrees during day.  No cankerworm activity

December 20, 2009

We have had several days of interesting weather.  Today is Sunday and Charlotte missed out on the Blizzard of 2009.  Snow apparently started falling just north of the Charlotte city limits and dumped as much as 24 inches on Roanoke Va.  Friday was the day of rain and snow and Saturday was overcast and the tree trunks still wet from the rain.  Today it is sunny, windy and cold.  There was a frost on the roof and the low was about 30 degrees. Mid day the temperature got up to about 48 degrees.   It is usually a couple of degrees warmer here in mid town where I live, and that has a bearing on the issue because the cankerworm comes after the first HARD freeze.

I expect them soon.  There were none today .... maybe tomorrow.

December 16, 2009

It has been wet, rainy and not very cold for the last week or so.  Today it is still overcast and 40 degrees at 9:30 am.  It has actually dropped since early morning around 6:30.  We are expecting a dip to 27 degrees tomorrow the 17th of December.  Last year the first cankerworms started crawling up the trees on December 6, 2008, the year before the first female was observed on December 16, 2007.  (You can track this yourself by going to the side bar to the left and  click on  Info 2008 Jan 2009).

I expect them soon.

December 8, 2009

On Sunday December 6th, I applied Tanglefoot to a single willow oak in my front yard.  The tar paper is nine inches wide, and yet I only put one and a half to two inches of Tangle foot on the tarpaper.

You might think that is a contradiction since I recommend a 6 inch band 1/4 of an inch thick.  There is plenty of room for me to add additional Tanglefoot above the small quantity of Tanglefoot I just applied.  I choose to wait and see what is going to happen.  I actually think that it will be a small infestation this year, but I do not know for sure.  In addition the smaller band of Tanglefoot.

Today is cold and rainy, 44 degrees at 3:00 PM.  Yesterday was right at freezing early in the morning but into the mid 50’s by afternoon.  It will be some time yet for the cankerworms to crawl.  I noticed that the contractors banding street trees nearby have not put on any Tanglefoot yet.  That’s OK with me.


December 4, 2009

As I went though the park the other day I noticed many trees still had lots of leaves on them.  It seems the larger trees have less foliage and the smaller ones still have lots of leaves.  Part of that might be due to wind exposure and the second reason might be that the leaf just holds on to the younger trees.  As I recall the leaves in Freedom Park adjacent to the tennis court at East Blvd. hold their leaves like this every year.

If your trees or neighbor’s trees are still retaining leaves then hold off on applying Tanglefoot.

December 3,  2009

There is a good bit to report today.

Yesterday I put the tar paper up on the large willow oak in my front yard.  I see the contractors the city has hired also putting up the traps and putting on the Tanglefoot.  I will be applying Tanglefoot tomorrow although I do not expect any female cankerworms for another couple of weeks.  We need a good hard frost or two to bring them out of the ground.

The leaves are mostly out of the willow oaks so I think it is OK to band them.  If you still have lots of leaves up in the trees you can hold off for a while.

Some Helpful Tips

One reason I am late in installing my trap is that when I started to do the job, I realized I was out of staples and batting material.  Then Thanksgiving rolled around and I was visiting family.  No harm done.

There are a number of hardware stores around the city selling materials for dealing with the cankerworms.  Blackhawk Hardware in the Parkroad Shopping Center is close, so when I went there I was talking to Jim Wilkerson (owner)and a few issues came to light.  I have an Arrow stapler; it uses a T50 staple.  There are a number of different lengths, and I chose the longest which was 11/32” long.  The salesman waiting on me said that was not necessary and most people bought the 1/2 inch staples.

If your staple gun can handle it, the longer staple is better.  In the process of using my staple gun the next day, I found out that quite a few staples missed their mark.  The tar paper is thick and you have to overlap in at least once.  Also you have the batting material to penetrate.  The longer staple is more efficient. 

As an interesting aside, Jim told me that they sold over 15,000 feet of tar paper last year for banding trees.  It seems a lot of people are taking my suggestion of using a plastic wrap that looks like Saran Wrap on a cardboard roll.  I can put the plastic wrap on the tree in about a minute and place it over the batting material that I use with the tar paper.  The one thing you have to be aware of is that you can cut the plastic wrap when you install the Tanglefoot.  If you use a paint scraper like device you can tear the plastic.

I use the 1 LB containers and heat them in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds to soften the Tanglefoot.  The only reason I use the tar paper for the single tree is that I can mash and count the insects easier than with the plastic wrap.

What is Proper Size of Band

I recently went through Freedom Park from E. Blvd. to the Lake and around the Lake.  Looks like the same group is banding trees there as in the last few years.  They are using the plastic wrap (Saran) which I think is fine provided they put enough of it around the tree and plug the opening in the voids.   Every tree I saw had a single 4 inch maybe a little more wrapped around the tree.  This is not enough.  IMO the Tanglefoot band needs to be a good 4 to 6 inches wide.  It can be applied in stages which means in a year of little activity one would not need to add an additional amount of Tanglefoot.

In addition, the willow oaks are vulnerable to the cankerworms as are the cherries which are all over the Park.  Sweet Gums are not host for the Cankerworms.  If you know the tree, the leaf and gum are very aromatic.  The cankerworms do not attack them. 

As a little aside now that it is the Christmas season, the sap of the Sweet Gum tree has been used for medicinal purposes from centuries.  Liquidambar styraciflua the Latin name for our sweet gum and another sweet gum tree grows in the near east.  Its name is Liquidamber orientalis and I have heard for years that the sap of the latter  one was a gift of incense the Wise Men took to Jesus.  The sap is collected from the tree and after drying is pounded into a powder.  The sap as it comes out of the tree will vary in color depending on the time of year.  In general the sap has an amber color to it.  The internet is a wonderful tool, and since I looked this information up I suspect that another tree called  Boswellia, actually produced the sap which was the frankincense of that biblical story.

Whatever the case, sweetgum sap has had many uses over the years.

If some of this information assumes too much, and you do not know what I am talking about, refer to the sidebar to the left for more information.


November 16, 2009

As I go around Charlotte, I see many trees with tarpaper or similar material installed on trees.  Later these trees will have Tanglefoot spread on them and the emerging wingless female cankerworms will begin their annual migration.  If you are new to the Charlotte area, take a look at some of the archives listed in the sidebar on the left.  Although I collected information over many years, not all of it is posted on this site.  In the fall of 2007 I gave a program at Myers Park Methodist Church and posted those details and photographs on this site.  Those pages give a pretty comprehensive look cankerworms.  Items covered are cankerworm history, migration habits, trapping, and so forth.   The link to those pages is on the left, 2nd item  Cankerworm 2007/2008

November 9th. 2009  It is really a little early still.  As noted a number of times on these pages, the cankerworms will start their yearly trek after the first hard frost.  The problem with banding too early, is that leaves and dust will blow up under Bug Barrier bands and that glue is not very sticky anyway.  Also leaves will get into Tanglefoot, so it is best to wait until all your leaves have dropped.

The next big question is “should I band at all this year since I had little or no activity last fall or spring?”

I think we will see decreased activity solely based on the fact that I did not see much last year.  There are parts of town where I understand there was a lot of cankerworm activity, so any advice needs to be reviewed as we get closer to the female cankerworm’s migration.

In my own case, I have about five trees to band.  I will only band the big one in my front yard at first.  I will watch and see what activity I have and if I see just a few worms(I mean 3 or 4) I will not band.  Always the females start off slow and you will see one the first day, maybe 2 on the third day etc.  If you start seeing the females going up the tree and you are capturing 10 a day then you should put up bands on your other trees.

Refer to this link to see what fall 2008’s migration looked like. Cankerworm info  2008 Jan 2009.

I will be posting information as the season progresses and will sometimes refer back to information that I have written previously.  The insects do the same thing every year, and the treatments seem to be about the same.  Last year was exceptional, in that we had such a drop in cankerworm activity.  The sidebar to the left should link you to all the information. 

September 18, 2009

It is time to start thinking about the cankerworm season for 2009.  Traditionally, Thanksgiving day (late November) is the time we say that you need to have sticky bands up on your trees.  The wingless females live in the ground and come out after a hard freeze.

Last season I did some calculating based on previous counts of the cankerworm.  I counted cankerworms trapped on one of the willow oaks in my yard.  I keep a daily count since I mash the bugs about noon daily and therefore can tell how many new cankerworms each day.  By late january most of the insects have tried to get up the trees so I used January 21 as the date.

In 2007 our total count was 5204 cankerworms.
January 21, 2008 the count was 1394 cankerworms. 

The difference is 3810 fewer insects in 2008 which still means there was a possibility for lots of cankerworms in the tree.  If all 1394 got to the top of the tree, mated and laid 200 eggs, then there was a potential for 278,800 cankerworms in the spring.  That did not happen, I caught sixteen insects on the same tree as of April 30, 2009.

What happened over the winter, I do not know.  Winter seemed normal enough to me.  If we are lucky the infestation will be low.

What I Plan To Do

I will band one of my five trees with tar paper around Thanksgiving.  I use tar paper because it is easier to count the insects.  On the other four tree, I will do nothing unless I see activity on the first trap.

I will use a plastic wrap similar to Saran Wrap.  This material is used for packaging and can be wrapped around the tree in just a few minutes.  I will have some type of batting material to place in the voids to keep the cankerworms from crawling underneath the plastic wrap.

If I do not use the banding materials this year, there will always be next year.

September 12, 2009

The yearly banding of trees starts in November about Thanksgiving day.  We need to start thinking about what we will do now so that we can be prepared.

Last season the Charlotte area saw really reduced cankerworm activity.  Although we captured many insects in the fall of 2008, we saw almost no total defoliation of willow oak trees in the Spring.  Two years before, much of Charlotte looked like fall in the spring.  Whole sections of town where the willow oak is predominate were totally defoliated.

From here, please jump to the link Fall 2009. for continuation about what is likely to happen this year (2009 and 2010.

See the sidebar to the left if you want to look at archival information.  The entry Cankerworm 2007/2008 has the most complete detail and photographs since much of the information there was given in a program presented at the Myers Park Methodist Church.