Charlotte surveying cankerworm damage; some residents looking fo - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Charlotte surveying cankerworm damage; some residents looking for help

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

The city of Charlotte is checking trees to see how much damage the dreaded cankerworms are causing.

Tree supervisor Steve Ketner said he began driving around the city Wednesday morning "to get an idea where damage might be, where trees have been defoliated, to get a general idea of what's going on - where problems might be."

Ketner said beginning last November, the city banded "more than 5500 trees" to prevent the worms' inevitable climb up the trees.

The city doesn't band trees on private properties.

According to a spokesperson for Charlotte's Neighborhood and Business Services, "the Neighborhood Matching Grant (NMG) program funds Tree Banding projects every year to organized, neighborhood-based organizations who are in or near the Cankerworm Infestation Area as determined by Engineering & Property Management.

"The NMG program funded (8) Tree Banding projects.  There is not a limit on the number of applications the program accepts or approves.  The funds are limited to $3,000 per applying organization and follow the same guidelines as NMG in terms of matching the funds 1:1 through cash, in-kind services and/or volunteer time."

Walk around Charlotte and surrounding cities - and you'll likely walk into hanging strands or find yourself brushing worms off your clothing.

Ketner said so far - with half of the city surveyed - "a lot of defoliation on the west side is what I noticed. As you get around, things are not as bad like the Northeast - Rocky River Road. There is some damage - not what I found on the west side of town so far." 

According to Ketner, the west side "had some pretty good damage last year too." He said the city did some additional banding "to get some counts to see what kind of insect problem we may have."

Along Tuckaseegee Road, and the neighborhoods around it -  you can see trees that have been defoliated by the insatiable worms.

Ketner said from Tuckaseegee he went out to "Freedom Drive, then went counter clockwise up in the University City area and ended over on Independence."

Ketner said he found spotty damage in the University area, and off Old Concord Road.

"It varies year to year" Ketner said. "We've seen where one part of town is not as bad as the other. Next year could be different. The insect is.. hard to come with any definitive conclusions."

Ketner said they've gotten calls from throughout the city. I haven't really done a complete analysis of where damage maybe yet.

Thursday he intends to head out to South Charlotte and the Arboretum area.

Ketner said by Friday he should have more a complete picture of the cankerworm damage in Charlotte.

As annoying and irritating the worms have been to some people - Ketner said in about a "week tops" he expects the worms will be back in the ground.

Still, some people are looking for relief.

"There's not much anybody can do now" he said. "What people should do is look in their yard to see where they have damage now - where defoliation is - make a mental note, then come the end of November - band those trees."

That's not enough for some Charlotteans.

"Several phone calls. Lots of people coming in" said Russell Honeycutt of Potts Hardware Store. "Cause everyone hates these cankerworms."

Honeycutt said residents can put Cutter Backyard Bug Control to a hose and spray on the worms that are "hanging off the trees, fallen on the ground, laying all over the patio or whatever."

"If you still have them up in the tree and they're eating -then you'll want to go with the product of Thuricide Concentrate" added Honeycutt. "You spray the leaves. As they {worms} eat the leaves, the chemical ingested into the worm will kill the worm."

Honeycutt said the sprays "should not harm the trees."

Ketner, the City's Tree Supervisor, said he believes patience is the best way to go.

While the worms should disappear in a week - it will take longer for trees to re-leaf.

"Most trees will re-leaf this year probably by the beginning of June - they should start coming back out" Ketner said. "And, pretty good color and shade by mid part of June."

Ketner said when he's done surveying the city this week - he'll sit down with the Arborist and staff - and "we'll take all this information and plot a plan for year, where we may have additional bands, gathering facts and information, plot them on a map and make plans for next year."

Meanwhile, Neighborhood and Business Services said the office is "accepting applications for next Fall's Tree Banding with the deadline being June 15, 2014."

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