When the air is crisp and the leaves are turning colors and piling up in my yard, Spring seems so far away. But it’s just the right time to protect our trees from the pesky, springtime pest – the cankerworm. These little green inchworms fall from the trees in early spring, covering everything – your hair, car, pet and sidewalks - for a few weeks making walking around outside a little less enjoyable. Not only are cankerworms a nuisance, they also eat the new leaves off trees like the Hungry Caterpillar on steroids. This makes it harder for the trees to make food for themselves just as they are trying to get their growth-spurt on. The trees have to expend more energy to make more leaves, leaving the trees vulnerable to attacks from pests, diseases, drought, and other hazards.
One way to control cankerworms is to catch the female moths before they lay their eggs, thus thwarting the hungry caterpillars before they are ever born. Female cankerworm moths are wingless, so they have to crawl up the tree trunk to lay their eggs. Putting a band around the tree covered with sticky glue will catch these moths, stopping them from laying their eggs in the trees which means fewer caterpillars are born in the spring. Banding works best when most of the trees in an area are banded, so it’s important that neighbors help each other to band most of the trees in their neighborhoods.
You may have seen some of these bands around trees in town. For the past few years, a coalition called Trees Across Durham has spread the word through the “Band Together” campaign by providing education workshops, materials, and support for people to band their trees. Tree Across Durham provides kits that you can pick up for free at our offices in the General Services Department at 2011 Fay Street. The kits include fabric for the tree binding layer, tar paper, instructions, and a tag to leave with your band to inform and inspire others! Due to demand we are not able to provide staplers or spreaders this year. Materials for tree bands can also be found at various local stores like Stone Bros & Byrd, Durham Garden Center, and the Scrap Exchange.
Unfortunately, this year there is a shortage of Tanglefoot, the sticky glue that you put on the bands to catch the moths. So band together with your neighbors and friends and share Tanglefoot. If you can’t find Tanglefoot, here are some alternative suggestions:
- Turn Guerrilla Tape or duct tape sticky side out and wrap it around the tree band.
- Vaseline – use sparingly and reapply as needed. You may want to create a barrier to keep the Vaseline from running down the tree as it gets weathered.
Remember, it’s important to take the tree bands down no later than May 1st to avoid tree rot under the band as the weather gets hotter and more humid.
For more information, including a locally made video on how to band your tree, go to www.TreesAcrossDurham.org and click on “cankerworms”. Please call 919-560-4197 ext 21269 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more questions or to reserve your kit!