The green worms are back like they never left

Facilities Management band trees to prevent the cankerworm population from increasing to an unmanageable level

| October 9, 2017

Adhesive bands prevent cankerworms from inching their way up to the top of the tree. Photo by Otensia Hendrington.

What on earth is a cankerworm? The small green worms that have been taking innocent dwellers of UNC Charlotte captive in their silky webs of destruction for the last several years. Yes, those cankerworms. With the help of facilities management, UNC Charlotte will be more than ready for the creepy crawlers this spring.

On Oct. 3, facilities management performed the first of many tree bandings around the UNC Charlotte campus. The tree banding was one of four events that took place this week as part of Sustainability Week 2017.

The cankerworm is completely harmless to pedestrians – as for the trees, not so much.

The white and green bands can be seen placed at the center of trees all across campus. The adhesive bands prevent cankerworms from inching their way up to the top of the tree, aka the danger zone.

UNC Charlotte Landscape Specialist, Bart Davis, explained why the cankerworm is such a problem.

“It is important to note that before a cankerworm becomes a cankerworm it is first a moth. The females, which are wingless, walk up the tree and the males land there. After they mate, they hatch their eggs and lay them all along the branches. Then when the babies are born they eat all the leaves off,” Davis said.

The eggs remain over winter and hatch in late March to mid-April. Hence why many students are seen performing football jukes and spins on their way to and from class.

Although the green worm is no larger than a fingernail, barely an inch in length, in platoons they can really cause damage

“We catch a lot of the females on the bands before they make their way up to the top, the method does a great job. Still, the cankerworms are getting worse, but also more tolerable. We did a great job last year, there wasn’t nearly as many as it usually is…to say the least, we were happy,” Davis added.

There is no clear indicator why the cankerworm is such a problem for the Queen City. According to Cabbarus County Department’s tips for lawn and garden, higher temperatures during spring emergence favor the cankerworms. This allows them to get bigger rapidly. As a result, birds wind up eating less total numbers to get the same volume of food, so more cankerworms survive.

In addition to tree banding facilities management also use another tactic to combat the cankerworms. UNC Charlotte Spray Technician Christopher Schultz gave a breakdown of the secondary technique.

“We have backpack spray that fogs a bacteria, called BT, on the leaves,” Schultz said. “Now when the worms eat the leaves it basically jumbles up there guts and they quit eating, which eventually kills them. It’s completely harmless to basically anything but the worms.”

University Sustainability Officer, Michael Lizotte, is confident that the tree banding will provide for an even more successful spring than last year’s. He also mentioned that a lot can be learned from this problem.

“This initiative is for homeowners who work or go to school here and have trees at home. They don’t know this is a place where we have professionals who can show you how to take care of your tree at home. We are a resource,” Lizotte said.

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Category:Campus, News

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