How to Band a Tree for Cankerworms

Posted on 10. Dec, 2013 by in Recent News

The Davidson Lands Conservancy is participating in a study to assess the effectiveness of banding trees as a means to control the population of cankerworms.  Following are instructions for banding a tree:

WHEN?  shortly after leaves have fallen

HOW?  Go to your hardware store and purchase:

  • Disposable elbow-length gloves (optional)
  • Duct tape or Nifty Wrapper plastic wrap (super-convenient, 5” x 1000’ roll-  $12.39)
  • Cotton or fiberglass batting  (sold as pipe insulation)
  • “Tree Tanglefoot” insect barrier
  • a putty knife.

1          Install a 4’ 6” wide strip of cotton batting or insulation around the tree at least 3 feet from the ground and below the lowest limb.  (If possible, install above height of your kids.  The Tanglefoot is rough on hair, clothes, etc.  It’s non-toxic – made from natural gums, castor oil.)

2          Circle the batting on the tree trunk tightly 2 or 3 times with the plastic wrap or duct tape, producing a band at least 6” wide.  Put extra batting under the band in spots where irregularities or grooves in the bark might allow the wingless moths to crawl under the band.

3          Use a putty knife to put a film of Tanglefoot directly on the band, about 1/16” thick and 5” wide.

Note 1:  If the Tanglefoot surface becomes covered with bodies of the moths, later individuals will be able to climb over on the bodies of the dead moths.  If this happens, add another band above the first one.

Note 2:  Banding is effective if all affected trees in the area are banded, so encourage your neighbors to join in the effort.  You might share the expense with others (about $0.25 per linear foot of banding material described above) (Commercially-sold bands may cost $2.50/ft.)

Note 3:  Not every species of tree needs to be banded.  Favored trees are elm and apple, but several species of oak, cherry, hickory, honey locust, maple, ash, beech, linden, birch, pecan, and hawthorn are also affected.

Note 4:  Remove the band in late March to prevent damage to the tree bark.