Emerald ash-borers have been getting a lot of attention lately for their environmentally destructive habits. From the midwest to the northeast emerald ash-borers have been destroying mass amounts of trees. However, the emerald ash-borer is not the only tree-destroying insect pest on the block. A destructive insect known as the cankerworm is becoming more of a concern to environmentalists, elected officials and national park officials. Unlike emerald ash-borers, which feed on various ash trees, cankerworms feed on a multitude of different tree species. Cankerworms feed on tree leaves while emerald ash-borers feed on a tree’s branches and trunk area. Cankerworms are becoming more of a problem in eastern regions of the United States. For example, officials with Fairfax County in Virginia are focusing on cankerworm eradication in 2018, as these insects are outpacing emerald ash-borers when it comes to forest devastation.77163859 - cankerworm larvae on plant in the wild

Some sources report that cankerworms are relatively harmless insect pests. But in Virginia, experts are now seeing the damage that can result from high cankerworm populations. When cankerworms consume the first, and all subsequent tree leaves, they rob trees of their nutrients. If cankerworms force trees to regrow leaves, then trees become weak and unhealthy as a result of depleting nutrient reserves.

A strategy aimed at controlling the cankerworm population in Virginia will be initiated by Troy Shaw, coordinator of the Forest Pest Program in the Fairfax County Urban Forest Management division. The pest division has already installed numerous trees with traps. The traps consists of a paper loop that circles the base of a tree. This loop is coated with a glue-like substance that traps cankerworm larvae as they travel up trees this winter. This method will also reveal which regions are home to high cankerworm populations. In Fairfax County alone, over five thousand acres of trees located in forest regions have been defoliated by cankerworms.

Do you think that cankerworms will be easier to control than emerald ash-borers in Fairfax County?