Garden Clippings: Bagworms

Bagworms are one of the most fascinating insects ever.

| June 2006

  • Bagworm on a tree limb.
    Bagworm on a tree limb.
  • A bagworm on a tree.

    CAPPER'S Library

  • Bagworm on a tree limb.
  • A bagworm on a tree.

Have you ever thought about the wonders that surround us? For instance, technology has brought conveniences that were dreams only a few decades ago. The Internet, which can provide information on almost any subject, is available at the tips of our fingers, cell phones keep us in touch with others, no matter where we are, and debit cards allow us to buy things without having money in our pockets.

However, there are wonders that are even more remarkable than technology, and some have been around for thousands of years.

It's remarkable that certain birds migrate each year to winter in warmer climates. What a feat it is for my backyard hummingbird, with its tiny wings, to fly thousands of miles each fall and spring.

It's amazing that the mole, a mammal that evades a gardener's trap so well, does not have the use of sight.

But some of the most astonishing characteristics of any group in nature belong to the insect group. A grasshopper can leap a distance over 20 times its length. If I could do that, it would be about a 120-foot jump. The Monarch butterfly migrates even farther than my hummingbird. But one of the most unique insects in the garden is the bagworm.

Bagworms are the scourge of gardens in the eastern half of the United States. If their voracious appetites don't destroy a host plant's foliage and ruin its aesthetic appeal, then the bag will remain on the plant for several years giving it an ugly Christmas tree ornament look. But I do admire the insect for the distinctive way it lives.

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