Cankerworms are crawling up trees; have you banded? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Cankerworms are crawling up trees; have you banded?

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In just a couple of months, homeowners will face an ugly rite of spring: cankerworms baring trees of their leaves.

So before the infestation begins again, Charlotte city officials are reminding residents that there's still time to band their trees - especially the large hardwoods, like oak trees, that cankerworms seem to enjoy. 

Banding prevents cankerworms from getting to the leaves at the top of trees.

Right now, moths are coming up from underground. The females are crawling up trees hoping to get to the top to lay eggs on branches. When the eggs hatch in the spring, those baby caterpillars devour leaves.

Drive around some Charlotte neighborhoods - like Burtonwood, where neighbors have banded the trunks of 900 trees - you can see cankerworms already trapped in bands.

Burtonwood made a decision to protect the trees after an infestation last spring.

"For the first time we were invaded by cankerworms. They literally in some areas of neighborhood just stripped the trees of all the leaves" says Dave Molinaro. "It was something we can't have this happen every year because it will damage and hurt the trees" says Molinaro.

Just after Thanksgiving neighbors started putting up the sticky insect barrier with insulation and wraps. 

Now, some Burtonwood residents are having to double band their trees.

Meena Koirala says "we could see all the bugs crawling up the dead bodies of the other bugs."

"The first band was so thick that the new ones coming up were crawling over the dead bodies of those that were stuck on the tanglefoot and going up the tree" says Molinaro.

There are trees around the city without bands -  as some residents have apparently decided to not band.

Charlotte City Arborist Don McSween says the number of cankerworms seems to have decreased. But he says homeowners have to maintain their bands.

"If they {bands} seem to be getting ready to be overwhelmed, put a second one" says McSween. "Or clean the band of dead cankerworms and remove leaves that are stuck to the band so other cankerworms can't crawl over" and get to the top of the tree.

McSween says residents can remove bands from trees by the second week of February.

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