If you are just visiting this page, you might want to first look at  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

Cankerworms 2014 If you got here try Cankerworm 2015

    Below are comments and observations concerning cankerworms in Charlotte North Carolina.  If you want to go back to previous years comments, check the links in the left sidebar.  If you want a recap of most of the useful information, or are new to the cankerworm problems, check out 2007/2008.  (same as on the left sidebar)

    Some time later this season I plan to recap some of the observations about cankerworms that I have seen in recent years which are not on the 2007/2008 page.  I have done some editing on that page and made the edited comments in red.  I will make comments from 2014 in some other color.  Some of the issues covered, will be:  How long do they last?, exactly when do they hatch?, why are they so scattered now?  Do the traps really work? How to tell the Spring Cankerworm from the Fall Cankerworm? 
    Entries for 2014/ 2015 Season below, most recent at the top.

    December 17, 2014 Wednesday  0 cankerworms trapped  total is 5
    I also am not seeing much or any activity on street trees banded by the city.  .. Also BTW I have reverted back to the smaller text as I think enlarging the text was causing some problems with the software. 

    December 16, 2014 Tuesday  1 cankerworms trapped  total is 5
    In Charlotte, where I live, we seem to be a little behind other cities outside of Charlotte.   Several weeks ago I got a message from Kimberly who lives on Mountain Island Lake. When she first wrote, I was a little skeptical that she was looking at cankerworms.  I also was not aware that cankerworms liked to feed on Hickory trees... don’t know the species.   She sent me a note recently and I will have to take back my skepticism.  I will reprint it below.

  • Hi Jack, 

    Looks like the Cankerworm wingless moths are starting to increase activity up here at Mtn Island Lake. Traps caught 24 wingless moths, 2 male winged moths and 1 brown cankerworm today alone. Traps were cleaned out yesterday to accurately count activity today. I have seen activity on a daily basis but today was by far the highest count.

    Thank you,
    Kimberly Tad**** 
    Sent from my Windows Phone
  • We have also heard from folks in Fort Mill and Concord who have had a lot more activity then we seem to have had. My analysis of the situation is this:
    In the past we have read and observed that the temperature has to drop below freezing down into about 27 or 25 degrees to really bring the female cankerworms out.  We have had several days like that, but they have been scattered.  I think in the past that we needed three days in a row to bring them out. 

    Now actually what we should be concerned with is the soil temperature.  I have a half baked Rube Goldberg design shown here.
  • 2014-12-16 11.57.24

  • If you look closely you will see that the thermometer reads about 48 degrees. I just took this photo and the air temp is 34 degrees.  I think one night in the soil the temp dropped to 45 but then came up quickly the next day.  I suspect that those folks living outside the city and also away from big trees could have colder soil temperature than I have at my house.

    I also live in the city 8 minutes from the Square (Trade and Tryon cross).  There are also lots of big trees in my neighborhood and they affect the temperature.  I do not try to keep real accurate temperature  records as this is more of a hobby than a totally scientific study.

    I will say that I appreciate the comments that are coming in about the information I am posting.
  • That being said, here is another letter that just came in today from Fort Mill. 
  • If you got this far I have transferred my entries to the cankerworm 2015 page.

    December 15, 2014 Monday  0 cankerworms trapped  total is 4
  • December 14, 2014 Sunday  2 cankerworms trapped  total is 4 cw
  • December 10, 2014 Wednesday   First Cankerworms for 2014
    I finally had a couple of cankerworms show up on my trap.  I also saw two on a city tree close by.  It will be cold tomorrow so I think we can really say they have started.
  • December 8, 2014 Monday
    We are expecting several cold days below freezing in the early mornings, and I think the cankerworms will decide it is time to march on upward.  I have not seen any cankerworms on my trees or the city trees near my home.  I did find one that might have been 1/2 a worm but I did not count it.  see  home page for photo

    December 5, 2014 Friday
    I had a report this morning with photo of a single cankerworm showing up on a trap in Gastonia. NC.  Info sent in by David Hedrick.  With his sighting and Donald McSween’s, I suspect it won’t be long til we start seeing them.  Yesterday I saw crews banding trees and applying Tanglefoot on my street, Queens Road West, 29207.

    December 1, 2014 Monday
    My trap is up and the biggest percentage of the leaves are down.  Since I install my bands myself, I only  put a narrow strip of Tanglefoot on the trap. There are two reason for this:  one is there will be fewer leaves to pull from the Tanglefoot.  The second is that if the infestation is light, then I don’t need to put up anymore Tanglefoot and that means less nasty stuff to put in the City Dump.

    It has been pretty mild compared to much of the rest of the country and I have not seen any cankerworms yet.  The Charlotte City Arborist reported this morning that he saw one cankerworm on the trap at his office which is 701 Tuckaseegee Road, Charlotte.

    November 29, 2014 Saturday
    Still have not seen any cankerworms yet.  Looks like soil temp was 45 or so today.  City contractors. seems to be working hard to get up bands without putting Tanglefoot on yet.

    November 25, 2014 Tuesday
    Several days ago I received an email from a woman who lives on Mountain Island Lake.  She said that there were four cankerworms on her hickory tree.  It had been defoliated the year before and now it is banded.  It seemed early, but Mountain Island Lake is north of Charlotte and probably a few degrees colder, so from that standpoint it is possible.

    The second thing is that I did not recall that hickory was a susceptible species for cankerworm, but it is definitely listed in areas farther north.  The elm trees also are susceptible farther north and appear to not be a problem in this area.  One factor might be the exact type of hickory or elm..  Here as an example, we have winged elm, American elm, slippery elm, and Chinese elm.  (I suppose I should supply Latin names which I will)

    So far in Charlotte, the soil temperature is about 50 degrees and air temp about 70 degrees.

  • November 22, 2014 Saturday
    Got my trap up yesterday afternoon.  I placed a narrow band of Tanglefoot on the trap so that I will not have so many leaves to remove once the insects really start traveling.  BTW  I have found that an old pair of tweezers are pretty good for removing leaves from the trap.

    It got as cold as the weather man predicted this last week  At my home I have several thermometers and I registered 22 degrees on Wednesday AM.  I also placed a thermometer in the ground about two inches deep and did that last night   The temperature dropped to 30 degrees air temperature.  The reading this morning was 40 underground which is colder than the ground temperature last year where it appeared that a temperature of 48 degrees might be enough to trigger the migration.
  • My in-the-ground thermometer is not particularly sophisticated.  I think I need to make a box and put the device in it.  It is not a good idea to leave an inexpensive thermometer on it’s side as air bubbles can form in the “red” column and ruin the device.

    November 18, 2014 Tuesday
    I have a maximum / minimum thermometer at my residence, and it always reads a little differently from the Official reading for Charlotte which I think is taken at the airport.  Early this morning (Tuesday), my thermometer registered at 29 degrees.  The Official reported on the TV was 26 degrees.  That is pretty consistent with other readings.  We have lots of trees in our neighborhood and there is still some foliage on the trees.  The trees and their leaves serve as a buffer for temperatures in both the summer and winter..   Be curious as to how cold it will get tonight.  (Wed am 22 degrees)    Last year December 11th was the first sighting of a cankerworm on my trap.

    November 17, 2014 Monday
    Looks like it will be cold  ... Monday night -27 degrees, Tuesday 17 degrees and Wednesday 24 degrees.  Under normal circumstances this much cold for three days is enough to bring out the cankerworms.  I  hope they do not start up the trees because there are lots of leaves on the ground and in the trees.  Excessive leaves mean the traps get clogged with leaves and these leaves provide bridges for the cankerworms to cross.

    As said before many times on this site, we need a good hard freeze for several days to motivate the female cankerworms to start their search for a place to lay eggs.  These females have been living under the ground since last spring.

    Last season I spotted the first cankerworm on one of my traps of December 11th.  The year before (2012) was December 15th.   When I first started tracking these insects the average date was around Thanksgiving, November 25th.

    I t will be interesting to see what happens.  I plan to set out my test trap this afternoon after the rain clears.  My prediction is that the migration will not start immediately after this cold snap.

  • October 20, 2014
  • I have not made any entries until now about the fall cankerworm since the end of the 2014 spring season April 30th.  The reason I am making this entry is that I got a flyer at my home yesterday October 19th that said it was time to band trees.   I totally disagree if you are banding for optimum effects.   The leaves are very much still on the trees and will be falling en mass soon.  If you band your trees now, you will have leaves all over or inside your trap.  We will not see the worms start to migrate up the trunks until late November at the earliest in my opinion.  Last year cankerworms started  December 11th.
  • Leaf blowers will carry dust and leaves up under the Bug Barrier traps and up on tarpaper/ Tanglefoot traps.  Natural dust and falling leaves and blowing debris will do the same thing.   In other words you will be losing the effectiveness of the trap between now and probably early December.
  • I will keep you posted.  I realize that commercial companies will want to get ahead of the migration, but a month and a half is extreme.

  • June 4, 2014
    I have been observing lots of outside nature issues this spring.  After the cankerworms stopped feeding about April 30th, I looked carefully to see how long it would take for the trees to come back to full leaf.
  • In general by May 15th healthy willow oaks were back.  I suspect the average person would not realize that the trees had been defoliated.  One of the key spots that I looked at is the row of willow oaks that are next to the tennis court in Freedom Park closest to East Blvd.  There are ten trees and as they started coming back the foliage was a lighter green than the foliage on trees that were not affected.  There is a difference between species and also a difference with healthy trees and unhealthy ones.

    Insert photo here.

    Although I have not looked at lots of species, the cherry trees in Freedom Park are a pretty good example. There are some Yoshino Cherry trees close to East Blvd. that are clobbered every year.  They also have a hard time coming back from the damage created by the cankerworms.  Today, being the forth of June, they are still looking pretty thin although I doubt any will die as a direct result of the cankerworms.

    Bottom line is that healthy trees (and favorable rainy weather) will bring the trees back from a heavy cankerworm attack in 15 days.  Let’s call it two weeks.

    So why are we spending so much money on protecting our trees from cankerworms.  This is a subject for later discussion.

  • May 11, 2014
    Cankerworm feeding in this neighborhood stopped about April 30th for 2014.  I stated earlier that they hatched about April 5th, the actual time they were feeding was 25 days.

    Now the next question for me is how long will it take the trees to recover.  We have an exceptional amount of rain and Charlotte is really green.  I estimate that the trees are about 50 percent out in full leaf after being defoliated.  I have been watching the trees in Freedom Park that line the walkway next to the tennis courts.  I will not be able to take a photo until Tuesday, but plan to do so.

    If your trees are generally healthy, they should be fine.  If they have issues then that will change how well they do.  Fertilizing trees is almost always a good idea and if your trees were defoliated this year then I think it would be smart to plan to band them this fall.

    Banding does work and I have some photos buried in these pages that prove it.  In general city trees came through quite well and they band those willow oaks larger than 15 inches every year.
  • April 28, 2014
    For the last several days the cankerworms have really slowed down.  I find a few crawling up or down a tree.  I presume the ones going up are looking for food and the ones going down area ready to dig a hole in the ground and pupate until fall.  There is still some feeding going on and the seven trees I saw near the tennis courts that were about defoliated a week ago, have now expanded to ten.  These just happen to be in a row, but there are many more in the park that area defoliated entirely, or mostly defoliated.  The cherry trees on East Blvd. look horrible as they always do this time of year from the feeding of the cankerworms.

    I will be keeping an eye on how fast they put on a new leaf crop.  For some trees, I would say about April 20th was total defoliation, and many other the 28th to the 30th of April will be an appropriate date.

    Traps can come down soon and should because they will capture other beneficial insects.

  • April 25, 2014
    The cankerworms are still feeding, but not climbing trees to the same extent. That is the observation from the one large willow oak in my back yard where I have a trap.  Banding does work but there will be some defoliation from windblown caterpillars coming from heavily infested trees nearby.

    On the other hand, if you observe a tree that is still in the process of being stripped of its leaves, then you will see many caterpillars still crawling up the tree trunks, water fountains, trash cans or anything that the poses something edible higher up than the ground.  Some shrubbery falls prey to this.

    On this date, April 25th,  I would say that the major feeding frenzy is over and many of these parachuting cankerworms are getting ready for the  next stage of their life underground.  The good news is that most trees will put out a second set of leaves and the spider webs (silk) and icky worms will cease to be an annoyance soon.
  • The bad news is that there will be a great opportunity for the cankerworms to come back even stronger this fall, so be prepared.  Don’t count of the city to spray either.  More about that later.
  • There is a lot more to report and I have some photos which illustrate a great deal.  I plan to post some of this information in the days to come.  
  • April 23, 2014
    I had a call from someone off of Eastway Drive and he stated that his trees have been totally defoliated.  Obviously, cankerworm activity is very heavy in some areas, and not so much in others.
  • Observation:  Cankerworms feed on lots of trees but around here like willow oaks the best.  Up north they prefer elm trees.  We do not have as many elms and the winged elm comes out later than the willow oak.  The true American Elm is not very common and up north, it has been destroyed in many areas by the Dutch Elm Disease.

    April 22, 2014
    Heavy feeding is going on now.  The number of caterpillars going up the trunks of the trees is slowing down but not over.  I am seeing more of the black cankerworm with thin yellow stripes.  It seems that the bright green ones first appear and then as the season slows down, we see more of the black.  I also saw another strange colored one that I have seen photos of before.

    April 21, 2014
    Cankerworm activity is still scattered, but next to the Freedom Park tennis court I counted 7 willow oaks that are almost stripped of all the leaves.  The day after the rain I could tell there was activity in those trees so was surprised to see the amount of feeding in just a day.

    There were threads of silk many of them with hanging worms under the tree and it was about impossible to walk on the side of the sidewalk that was adjacent to the trees.

    I also noticed several large oaks with hardly any leaves on Selwyn Avenue where QRW intersects and again defoliated trees at Selwyn and Runnymeade.
  • April 21, 2014
    On Sunday mid day I walked my dog on one of my normal routes into Freedom Park.  The water on Saturday was up to five post which is nearly as high as I have ever seen it.  There is a rail on the walkway under the bridge and it has metal pipes or post supporting it.  When it floods I measure the water by the number of post or pipes the water touches. 
  • We had a slow steady rain and a big thunderstorm upstream will raise it more. Today (Monday) it is almost clear again and still pretty high.

    1. April 20, 2014
      Sunny and cool in the morning.  Low 50 in AM and not much movement of the cankerworms. In the afternoon as it warmed up into the 70s the cankerworms were very active.  I sprayed the trunk a few days before the rain and there were no worms crawling up the trunk until Sunday afternoon.  There were hundreds and most of them on the sunny side of the tree.
    2. April 19, 2014 (Saturday)
      Lots of rain  today, all day ... the total turned out to be 5 1/2 inches.  There was no movement of the cankerworms.
    3. April 18, 2014
      There are a number of interesting things to observe about the cankerworms at this time of the year.   Sally Swanson  wrote me from Durham and asked if the cankerworms on her deck were dead and would the cold at about freezing kill them. I said I thought that was wishful thinking.

      My observations are that cankerworms don’t like the cold (or wet).  Today it was 55 degrees in the early morning and the cankerworms were lethargic to say the lease.  Yesterday it was right at freezing in the early morning.  I pulled several from their treads that looked about dead and breathed on them.  After a few breaths they started moving around.

      You will notice on the photos of the traps that there are lots of cankerworms at different sizes.  I doubt that they all hatched at the same time but also if they ended up on a newly planted tree (5” willow oak) such as I have in my yard they will be feeding on smaller newer buds because the tree is still suffering from planting shock and the damage they can do to that tree and any other which is late in leafing out could be severe.

      I plan to spray the foliage today as far as I can reach with Permethrin see article on jackmcneary.com. This will decrease the feeding.  I think the worms will be feeding for another week or two depending on the weather.  They will put on a great deal of growth and eat like a teenager.  So be prepared for defoliated trees.

      In reading a site on cankerworms from Minnesota the authors stated that the banding did not do much good.  I strongly disagree in that I have photos from years past that show the difference.  Do the band correctly at the right time and keep the Tanglefoot on them and this year you might capture 1000s of insects in a single trap.

      How long will cankerworms feed on your trees.
      Most people will not see the cankerworms when they first come out.  They are about 1/16th of an inch long and take about a week to become a nuisance to us.  The general consensus is that they will be around for about four weeks.  If  I were to pick the number of days I would say 21 days because that is a magic number in nature.  Maybe I would be safer saying 21 days from when you saw the first cankerworm.

      They will get much bigger from hereon out. They will grow rapidly which means they will eat a lot.

      Here is some good news
      The cankerworms drop to the ground and become fertilizer.  Also all that cankerworm poop correctly called frass is great fertilizer and your lawns will really look good for a time. 

      If your trees are in pretty good shape, they will put on a second leaf crop and be fine. If you don’t want cankerworms around next year feeding on your trees and shrubs, then you should plan on banding.  Remember that many of those cankerworms are coming from your neighbors trees.
    4. April 16, 2014
    5. Still at the top of things to observe outdoors is the cankerworm activity. 

       We have had several days of strange weather like the rest of the country.  It was almost freezing here early this morning. As I was walking my dog in the afternoon I came upon several trees that were loaded with cankerworms.  They don’t move much when it is raining or real cold, but when it warms up they get going.

    6. I have changed my opinion that it would be scattered heavy infestations.  I now think that in this neighborhood, it will be massive.  I have not seen the traps loaded with so many cankerworms in years.  If you didn’t band your trees you can expect major defoliation in the trees the cankerworms like to eat.  Willow Oak street trees with bands are a good way to check on the status.

      I was amused by the dollar bill tree.  I wish I had a dollar bill for every cankerworm I have seen.    More on Cankerworms here.
    7. cw dollar bill 734
    9. April 9, 2014
      Later yesterday  (April 8th) I was walking my dog and saw some city trees with lots of cankerworms in the traps.  These insects were well advanced than the CWs on my trap and obviously came out much earlier.  Since it usually takes about a week after hatching for us to see them on the ground, climbing trees and being captured in the traps I suspect they hatched early April (3,4,5).  In years past, I have observed the small cankerworms the last days of March.
      The photo below was taken April 8, 2014 and is from a willow oak on Queens Road West.  Note the size of the willow oak leaves compared to the young cankerworms
  • cw-mar-8-street-qrw_675red
    1. April 8, 2014 

    see home page for entries on April 9,16 and 18

  • April 8, 2014  This is the same information posted on the home page for April 8th..
    Cankerworms are hatching.  Yesterday we had severe rains here in Charlotte, and I suspect some cankerworms came out over the mild weekend.  (This would make the start for hatching about April 4 or 5) I usually see these worms on my trap where the male and female have gotten together.  The egg cases on the trap will hatch.  Today I found one bright green cankerworm about a half inch long.  It will take the best part of a week for most people to observe the new worms.
  • Leave the traps up, and if the old Tanglefoot is filled with worms, dust, leaves, add some more Tanglefoot to the outside of the trap.  In my neighborhood, we should catch a lot of “inch worms.”  They initially will climb the tree for new tender foliage and buds.  Later as they mature they will either parachute down on silken threads or crawl down the trunk to spend the next part of their life cycle underground.

March 11, 2014
With 1820 insects for the season, this is much higher than the last several years in this neighborhood. Depending where you are living, you can see quite a variation in the cankerworm infestations.  That is one reason that if you have the option, put out a test trap to see if you will need to band your trees.  Based on that I believe that next year in this neighborhood, we will have a heavier infestation.  The insects will hatch from their eggs in late March of very early April.  Keep the traps up to capture the cankerworms as they move up and down the trees in the Spring. 

I will be watching carefully to see when they first show up.  I look on the trap to discover an egg cluster and when I see very small cankerworms about 1/16 of an inch long I know that they are hatching in the trees.  It takes about a week before we start seeing frass, silken webs and worms.

March 07, 2014 
Cankerworm count at 1820 approximately for the season.  I need to go back and fill in a few numbers.  With all the icy, freezing, and just plain cold weather, the cankerworms late in the season have been moving up the trees spasmodically.  I was out of town and skipped a few days but the totals of 1820 are close.  It is always possible to miss a few that got over the Tanglefoot and made it up the tree.  During the season I caught about 3 that moved over the Tanglefoot.  In years past the worms have stopped earlier often by the second week of February. In 2011 all but one cankerworm were finished by first week of February.  Also there were a total of 59 insects captured for the season.  In 2012 the cankerworms were finished by February 8th and there were a total of 308 insect.  In 2013, the cankerworms stopped on February 15th and there were a total of 573 cankerworms trapped.

February 23, 2014  total cw 1820  cw 0 Sunday
Captured 0 cws on Monday Feb 23RD

February 22, 2014  total cw 1820  cw 0 Saturday
Captured 0 cws on Monday Feb 22ND

February 21, 2014  total cw  1820   cw 6 Friday   
Captured 6 cws on Monday Feb 21ST        End of migration for 2014.  Since I was out of town the migration could have stopped sometime between the 15th and the 21st of February.

February 20, 2014  total cw     cw  Thursday

February 19, 2014  total cw     cw  Wednesday

February 18, 2014 total cw     cw  Tuesday

February 17, 2014  total cw     cw  Monday

February 16, 2014  total cw     cw  Sunday

February 15, 2014  total cw     cw  Saturday

February 14  2014  total cw 1814    cw 3 Friday

February 13, 2014  total cw 1811    cw 0 Thursday

February 12, 2014  total cw 1811    cw 0 Wednesday   snow

February 11, 2014  total cw 1811    cw 0 Tuesday
Captured 0 cws on Monday Feb 10th                       snow

February 10, 2014  total cw 1811    cw 0 Monday       snow
Captured 0 cws on Monday Feb 10th

February 9, 2014  total cw 1811    cw  Sunday 16
Sunday Feb captured 32 cws but missed Saturday's count (out of town) so divide by 2 for Saturday and Sunday

February 8, 2014  total cw 1795    cw   Saturday 16
Saturday Feb 8  Was not able to count worms

February 7, 2014  total cw 1779    cw  Friday 22
Friday Feb 7, 2014

February 6, 2014  total cw 1757    cw Thursday 36   
Thursday February 6th, captured 36 cw

February 5, 2014  total cw 1721    cw wed 03
Wednesday February 5th, captured 3 cw

February 4, 2014  total cw 1735  cw Tue 17
Tuesday February 4, captured 17 female cws.

February 3, 2014  total cw 1718      Mon 16 cw  
Monday, just 16 cankerworms.  My band of Tanglefoot that was about 3 inches wide has diminished because the lower part is filled with cankerworm parts.  I actually captured one very healthy cankerworm that got above the Tanglefoot band.  A few won’t hurt and last year I had no defoliation.

February 2, 2014  total cw 1702      Sun 101 cw
Sunday, captured 101 cws.  It was quite warm, got up to high sixties even warm enough to spray some chick weed in the lawn.  We will see some rain on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  Should still have some cws.

February  1, 2014  total cw  1601    sat  31 cw
This was truly warm day after snow and ice and cold weather for several days.  I think it got up to about 60 today and yesterday (Friday)  it was at least 50 degrees in the evening.  Again the cankerworms waited for a warm night and started moving again.

January 31, 2014  total cw 1570     fri  0

January 30, 2014  total cw 1570     Thur   0

January 29, 2014  total cw  1570    wed     0

January 28, 2014  total cw 1570  tue 130
Tuesday Jan 28th, 130 cws this am.  It was 30 degrees early this morning, yesterday it got to 64 in the afternoon after a couple of rather cold days down in the 20’s.   Again a burst of insects lining up to climb the tree but the cold soil and air prevented them or at least slowed them down.

January 27, 2014.  This date last year 2013, we had captured 265 cankerworms.  Today the number is 1440.  That is over five (5) times as many as last year. 

January 27, 2014  total cw 1440  mon 95
Monday, looks like there are a lot of insects in the trap.  Am on my way to count them.
Monday, captured 95. Read results at 11:00 am.  It appears to me that when it is really cold between 10 to 20 degrees overnight for several days, the insects wait until it warms up (maybe the soil thaws) to advance their march up the tree trunks.  It is very unusual for us to have the extended cold we have had in this area this season.  We are ending the 2nd series of cold temperatures and have another one coming tomorrow.  In the past the insects decrease on their own in early February.

January 26, 2014  total cw 1345   sun  37
Today is a little warmer and tomorrow it will get up to 60 plus degrees.  The ground has been frozen for the past three or four days.  Maybe there will be a jump on Monday morning.
Sunday, captured 37 cankerworms today.

January 25, 2014  total cw 1308   sat  0
Saturday, cold today good day for a fire in the fire place.  Zero cws captured

January 24, 2014  total cw 1308
Friday, captured 2 cankerworms today

January 23, 2014  total cw 1306
Thursday, captured only l cw

January 22 , 2014  total cw 1305
Wednesday captured 29 cankerworms.  I have noticed for a week or so that the cankerworms are coming up on different sides of the tree.  For years I used a large willow oak in my front yard to track the cankerworms.  I noticed they always came up on the sunny side of the tree or the part that warmed up the earliest in the morning.  They start climbing on the sunny side which is East and moved to the South East and are now on the North Western side of the tree.  That also means that they are almost finished.  As noticed, the numbers per day are also diminishing.

January 21 , 2014  total cw 1276 
Tuesday captured 57 cankerworms

January 20 , 2014  total cw 1219    
Monday captured 13 cankerworms

January 19 , 2014  total cw 1206         
Sunday captured 34 cankerworms

January 18 , 2014  total cw 1172
Saturday captured only 3 cw

January 17 , 2014  total cw 1169
Friday, captured 37 cw.

January 16 , 2014  total cw 1132
Thursday, captured 102 cw today

January 15 , 2014  total cw 1030
Wednesday captured 42 cw  
 I now wonder what lies ahead for the season. In 2006 and 2007 there a total of 5914 canker worms. With 17 more days left in January at an average of 100 cw per day we would have a total of 2730.  The entire season has shifted some in terms of the cws starting later and peaking in January.  From looking at past statistics it is not likely that we will average 100 cankerworms.  In all past years, by the time February gets here the trapped cankerworms drops to just several to non per day.

One thing this does mean is that if banding your trees now is possible you will probably capture lots of cws.  You will have missed a great number that have already gone to the top to lay eggs.  1000 cw females x 200 eggs would be 200,000 insects munching away at the new buds and leaves.

One other bit of good news is that we have had plenty of rain and most trees can stand a defoliation in the spring.  We are fortunate that we have a long growing season here in the south. 

January 14 , 2014  total cw 1088
Tuesday captured 298 cankerworms    This day in 2013 there were only 365 trapped cankerworms. Prior to Jan 10th I saw little activity on the city street trees which are banded.  Since the tenth, the numbers have increased dramatically

January 13 , 2014  total cw  790
Monday 121 captured cankerworms

January 12 , 2014  total cw 669 plus 314 =  669 
Sunday 73 cw trapped

January 11 , 2014  total cw 282 plus 314 =  596  Saturday AM
No this is not a mistake.  When I went out on Friday morning January 10, at about 9:30 which was almost exactly 24 hours since I took the previous count, I mashed 314 female cankerworms.  This was a big surprise to me, but even though it was wet and we had some rain earlier, the soil had warmed as had the air.  The upper surface of the ground had been frozen during our cold days of 8 degrees on Tuesday and 15 on Wednesday.  I skipped posting on Friday January 10 because it was such a surprise I needed to think a little about what I would post.

On Christmas day several years ago I counted over 100 cankerworms which was a record for me at the time. Yesterdays 314 just about matches 337 for the total for 2013.  596 total female cankerworms for 2014 is an amazing number.

Obviously, severe cold backs up the onslaught of cankerworms.  The soil temperature was about 45 on January 10th and was more like 38 maybe colder since my soil temperature probably is not particularly accurate.

January 9 , 2014  total cw 282
Today only two cankerworms. Thursday

January 8 , 2014  total cw 280 Wednesday
Did not capture any cankerworms.  It was 8 degrees on Tuesday morning and 15 today.

January 7 , 2014  total cw 280  Tuesday
Captured 6 cankerworms.  Yes it did get down to 8 degrees. I have one maximum / minimum thermometer and one digital that records the outside temp and shows that on an inside radio controlled weather station. 

January 6 , 2014  total cw 274
Monday captured 36 cw  It will be very cold tomorrow, projected to be 8 degrees here early Tuesday morning.

January 5, 2014  total cw 238
Sunday, captured 22

January 4, 2014  total cw 216
Saturday, captured 3 cw

January 3, 2014  total cw 213
Friday captured 6 cw

January 2, 2014  total cw 207
Thursday captured 5 cw

January 1, 2014  total cw 202
3 cankerworms counted to start the new year.

December 31, 2013  total cw 199
Captured 22 cankerworms today.

December 30, 2013  total cw 177
Captured 17 cankerworms today.

December 29, 2013  total cw 160.
75 (seventy five)
cankerworms today.  It rained last night and most of the morning.  I usually try to count the cankerworms early in the day often by 9:00.  Today I did not count until after dark, about 5:30.

Last year on December 29, there were a total of 76 cankerworms in the trap, this year 160.  I don’t see so many cankerworms on street trees, but I suspect some neighborhoods will be hit hard.

December 28, 2013  total cw 85 
13 cw

December 27, 2013  total cw 72
17 today pretty cold, high twenties.  I counted 17 cankerworms since yesterday

December 26, 2013  total cw 55  
18 cw  after getting back ... Thursday.. I did not count for three days and that would be an average of 6 per day.

December 25, 2013  total cw 37
Wednesday Christmas day

December 24, 2013  total cw 37

December 23, 2013  total cw 37  heavy rain 7 inches
Monday we left town for several days.  There was 7 inches of water in my rain gauge  Also there were 5 cankerworms in the trap even though it was very wet.

December 22, 2013  total cw 32
Sunday nine cankerworms.  Looks like things are moving along.

December 20, 2013  total cw  23
Saturday, 3 cankerworms... I also added more Tanglefoot to the trap.  Some of the insects were getting past the think band.  The band now is mostly 3 inches in width.

December 20, 2013  total cankerworms (cw in the future)  20

Six female cankerworms mashed on the trap.  Also put more Tanglefoot on because a few cankerworms have managed to get past the thin band I placed on the trap.  The insects move rather slowly, and I caught them still on the tar paper on the trap.  All insects have climbed up the sunny (warm) side of the tree.  Very mild to day, it will probably get into the mid 60’s.

December 19, 2013  total cw 14
One cankerworm today.  Last year 8 days after they start of the cankerworm migration there were 29 cankerworms in my trap as opposed to 14 this year.

December 18, 2013  total cw 13
ive more cankerworms today.  City trees much the same and am not seeing very much activity. Temp low 30’s got up about 50 today.

December 17, 2013  total cw 8
Three more cankerworms on the trap this morning.  It is a bright and sunny day and was about freezing this morning but will be near 50 in the afternoon.  I have checked other traps, mostly street trees and I find very few cankerworms.  Someone on Sunday evening said that he had twenty cankerworms of Friday which is a surprise to me.  Think I will swing by his home and take a look.  From past experience the worms start their crawl rather slowly.  It takes a week before they really start moving.

December 16, 2013 total cw 5
Counted 3 cankerworms on the trap today.

December 15, 2013  also  total cw 2
Sunday, no cankerworms today.  Mid day 40 degrees sun is out.  The photo directly below shows how one cankerworm escaped over the thin band of Tanglefoot that I had on the trap.  At the bottom of the photo shows the trap with lots of leaf debris in it.  This was the first insect I saw and I took tweezers and removed what I thought was most of the leaves.  Obviously, I did not do a good enough job and will probably have to put more Tanglefoot on the trap.  Today is the same date that they started their climb last year.


December 14, 2013  also  total cw 2
Saturday, it was very wet over 2 inches of rain mid afternoon.  no cankerworms.

December 13, 2013  also  total cw 2 (I will keep a running total during the cw season)
While walking Bear (my dog) I looked at lots of city trees and found isolated cankerworms on the traps.  I saw this insect which is also a cankerworm and is the stage we see in the spring after the insects have hatched.  We have something around here which is referred to as the Spring Cankerworm.  Maybe this is it.  The eggs would obviously mature quickly because it hatches in the spring also like the Fall Cankerworm. I have seen a few of the inchworms in the past years.  Any entomologist out there who can enlighten me, feel free to let me know.


December 13, 2013, total cw 2
Today I had one more cankerworm in the trap.  I also saw several other cankerworms on various traps that the city has installed.  It looks like they will be coming along quickly now, since it was 22 degrees today and again 48 in the soil.

Better get those leaves off your trap.  It seems the wind blew hard in the last storm and really plastered the leaves on the traps. That doesn’t count what the lawn care companies leaf blowers did.  I keep a pair of old tweezers on the trap to help remove the leaves.


December 12, 2013
No cankerworms. today.  Low temp was 26 degrees.  Soil Temperature 48.

December 11, 2013
I checked my cankerworm trap this morning and the first wingless female was on it
Air temperature was 25, soil temperature was 48 degrees. I took a photo of the insect and it was on the trap above the small band of Tanglefoot I had placed on the trap.  A leaf blower several weeks ago blew a whole bunch of leaves up on the trap and I actually took a pair of tweezers and removed all of them.  Trouble was that there were some leaf fragments I did not get and it looks like this cankerworm just made a bridge out of the leaves and got past the Tanglefoot.  I have noticed lots of trees with traps just covered with leaves.  This has been a very windy season as the leaves were falling and yard crews with blowers don’t make the situation any better.  This sighting is four days ahead of last year, 2012.

December 10, 2013
No sign of the canker worm yet. Today is Tuesday and we are at the end of three days of rain.  North and West of us the weather has been cold and terrible.  Here, pretty warm although in a few days it is supposed to get pretty cold.

Last year I saw the first cankerworm on December 15th 2012 and it was 38 degrees at the time.  A few days earlier it was 27 at my home.

November 26, 2013
It is 25 degrees at 8:30 AM and raining.  Time to walk the dog and check for cankerworms.  I do not expect them today because they do not move much in the rain and it has been too warm.  In the past week the soil temperature has been up to 50 degrees and as low as 40 yesterday when the cold temperature was 23 here and 19 officially.

I was thinking that soil by itself is not a good conductor of heat, and I wonder if the cold rain water which will be a little above freezing will move through the soil and get that top 3 or 4 inches of upper soil colder than if we did not have the rain. 

We have had a few cold snaps pretty far apart over the last several weeks.  Past experience says 3 days of good cold weather around 27 degrees will trigger the migration.  As said earlier, maybe a few days of soil temperature at a certain level is a better guide as to when they will emerge.

November 16, 2013
I have been watching the trap closely since Monday and even heard that the cankerworms were starting in Rock hill SC which is 30 miles south of us and likely to be a little cooler since Urban areas like Charlotte are always a little warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer than Rural areas.

The low temperature was in the low twenties (21) for Wednesday and Thursday and 32 for Friday.  My readings here were 25 and 35 degrees F.  The soil temperature was 40 degrees on Wednesday and Thursday climbed to 52 degrees by Sunday morning.  The air temperature was 55 degrees.

I have just started measuring the soil temperature.  I am not sure the actual depth of the soil where the cankerworms live but imagine the live in the upper few inches of soil.  I simply stuck a used outdoor thermometer used in a koi pond in the ground about three inches deep.  We will see what that shows us. 

By the way in the spring time pre-emergent weed killers are timed by when certain plants bloom such as forsythia.  A more accurate way of deciding when to put down pre-emergent weed killers is by soil temperature.  The quote directly below is from the University of Delaware and a link to that site also.  The site explains the concept of degree days which is a very important concept for studying plants and insects.

Regarding soil temperatures, a rule of thumb is 3 consecutive night soil temperatures above 50 F. When soil temperatures consistently stay above 50 F, pre-emergent herbicides, if they are to be applied, should be  down or going down.


November 11, 2013
Today is Monday a few days after the terrific typhoon that hit the Philippines. It still feels like fall here in the Carolinas, and it is hard to visualize the destruction half way around the world.  We are blessed. 

Cankerworm season is just around the corner.  It looks like midweek Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. there will be temps in the low 20’s.  This should bring out the cankerworms.  It is very early though.  When I first started tracking the emergence of the wingless female, it was about Thanksgiving Day (November 25) when we had a few bad days of cold weather.  As the years have advanced and it has gradually gotten warmer, the cankerworms have not made an appearance until mid December.  I recall one year when the peak migration was about December 25th, Christmas day.

That has changed, in recent years the main migration has been January.  For details, I suppose I could refer to the notes in the sidebar to the left, but think I am getting lazy.  But if you are new to this site or just want to know what happened in some earlier years, refer to the left sidebar.  The most comprehensive information is the link to Cankerworm 2007/2008

There are still a lot of leaves in the trees so band a single tree or refer here to see when the cankerworms really start.  Then put on the Tanglefoot.  If you have a yard service that uses a leaf blower, be aware that many leaves become airborne and will stick to the Tanglefoot. 

For those of you in Concord since you are likely to be a little colder than Charlotte, I would be curious to know what your first day of activity is.  e-mail me.  Please.

For the time being, the information below will stay here until about the first of the year.  At that time I will delete the information below from this page.  You will still be able to go to 2013 by following the link from the sidebar.

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. 


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

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



December 16, 2014   Looks like I have a software problem that I can not seem to fix.  I am starting a new page for 2015 immediately.  Even though it is not yet the end of December, I will be starting the new page now.  JMM


 Cankerworm Page