How to Get Rid of Bagworms

Have you ever looked closely at a tree limb and it appeared to be moving? This is a common shock for anybody who has ever encountered a bagworm, which is the egg and larvae stage of a bagworm moth.

Bagworms use a form of camouflage to disguise themselves during the incubation process, these cocoons resemble tree limbs or fuzzy leaves, which is why many people mistake the worms for a natural part of a tree. Bagworms are destructive to the trees or bushes they attach to, which is why many people frequently wonder how to get rid of bagworms to save their trees or evergreen bushes.

How to get rid of bagworms?

Getting rid of bagworms requires a combination of manual and chemical procedures. Follow these steps:

  • Cut the bagworms off a tree or bush with scissors and dispose of the cocoons.
  • Administer a residual insecticide to the tree formulated to treat bagworms.
  • Consider applying Bacillus thuringiensis to the tree of bush.

Bagworms can cause significant damage to trees and shrubs. This guide will offer information on where bagworms come from and how you can prevent these destructive insects from ruining your plants and shrubbery. Read on to find out more.

Where Do Bagworms Come From?

Before we can figure out how to get rid of bagworms, it is important to know what this insect is and also what bagworm cocoons look like. Bagworms are basically one stage in the life cycle of the bagworm moth, which is a black moth that primarily eats plants and shrubbery as opposed to insects and microorganisms like most moth species.

Bagworm - Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis Haworth
Bagworm – Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis Haworth

The life cycle of the bagworm moth begins with eggs when the eggs hatch, the moths begin their first life stage as larvae, which starts as a tiny, wormlike appearance and gradually grows into a worm that resembles a caterpillar. During the larvae stage, bagworms construct a cocoon made of twigs and other surrounding foliage which acts as their shelter.

Bagworms choose to live inside of their “bags” over the winter period, where fresh eggs are also stored until late spring and early summer. When larvae reach adulthood, the worms then transform into bagworm moths.

Many years ago, bagworms were often mistaken as part of a tree or bush since the worms like to collect debris for their cocoons that resembles the plants they are both living in and eating from. Although it is easy to make this mistake, if you ever see groups of cocoons hanging from a tree limb or on other parts of trees, this is actually the sign of a bagworm infestation.

Getting rid of bagworms may seem like a difficult task due to the mysterious behavior of these insects, but the process is easy.

How Do You Control Bagworms?

Bagworm control involves a few simple steps to effectively get rid of the pests. You may decide to simply cut the bags off of plants and trees or you may choose to use spray insecticides, however, a combination of both methods is the most effective for bagworm control.

You can typically expect to find the bags suspended from trees year-round, with the bags being closed during the late fall and winter months. No matter the time of year, you can use a pair of scissors to cut the bags from trees, granted you can reach them.

If necessary, you can use a ladder to reach reasonably-placed cocoons, however, bagworms may choose to place their bags in areas far out of reach, even with the aid of a ladder.

Simply dispose of the bags and get rid of the trash as soon as possible. Due to the difficulty in reach some bagworms, you can use a powerful insecticide specially formulated for bagworms to handle the elimination.

We recommend Temprid FX (see on Amazon) due to this insecticide's powerful residual components that can work just as well outdoors when exposed to rain and moisture. Be sure to spray all the leaves and twigs of a tree to ensure the chemical can get into every possible area a bagworm may choose to nest.

evergreen bag worm mothFrequently Asked Questions

Is It Too Late to Spray for Bagworms?

Since bagworm cocoons can stay in a tree all year long, it is never too late to spray for these pests. If you choose to use an insecticide for control that has a long-lasting residual that maintains effectiveness outdoors, this will kill any live bagworms and even work to kill the eggs inside of the cocoon.

For best results, you can spray for bagworms during the late-spring and summer months, which is when the worms and moths are the most active.

Are Bagworms Harmful to Humans?

Despite the destruction that these insects can cause to trees and plants, bagworms are in no way harmful to humans or your pets. Moths play a vital role in a surrounding ecosystem, however, this type of moth is more of a pest due to the damage it causes to vegetation.

You do not have to worry about any diseases or possible bites from a bagworm.

In Summary

Efforts to control bagworms are necessary since this type of insect can ruin trees and shrubs very quickly for such a small insect. These insects are so destructive because not only do they eat foliage, they use a large amount of vegetation to construct their cocoons.

Whether you choose to manually remove the cocoons from your trees or, you decide to use a powerful insecticide to eliminate the insects, control measures for this insect are relatively easy. In the end, although it goes against much of what we are taught about killing moths, this type of moth is far too destructive not to act against.


The University of Nebraska. “Bagworm.” (2009). Retrieved from

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