City crews out working to see just how bad Charlotte's cankerwor - - The News for South Mississippi

City crews out working to see just how bad Charlotte's cankerworm problem is


In case you haven't noticed, cankerworms are invading parts of Charlotte. 

Experts say the west side and parts of the University area are crawling with cankerworms with no clear reason why that is.

Arborists fear if the problem is not treated, trees will be in danger.

City staff is busy traveling parts of Charlotte looking for trees that are being destroyed because of the cankerworm.  They are documenting what they find and coming up with a plan.

"I find areas that the trees are totally green, lush and beautiful, Charlotte Tree Management Supervisor Steve Ketner said.  "And you go a few blocks away and you might see a whole block where cankerworms just defoliated the trees."

This is the time where the female cankerworms eggs have hatched and the insects are feeding off the trees. Female cankerworms can lay as many as 100 eggs. Experts want neighbors to remember to band trees in November. 

"The more people band trees," Ketner said. "The more we keep the trees healthy. It will prevent the cankerworm from going up the tree to lay eggs and having the green worms hatch out and becoming a mess this year."

The insects can cause major damage for trees in the future. The last time the city sprayed for Cankerworms was back in 2008. The city spent $1.6 million to spray 65,000 acres.  That was the year of the drought.  Conditions will be watched and it will be determined next year if the city needs to spay.

City Arborist Don McSween believes the city could get a better handle on the cankerworms if there was more research done on the tiny insects.  The last time research was done was about 40 years ago.

"For Charlotte to have this problem," McSween said. "And no one considers it a big enough problem to put the money to researching it."

McSween believes the cankerworms should be gone in about 10 days and he says so far so good when it comes to the condition of the trees.

"As far as the trees are concerned," McSween said. "I think they will be able to come back, bring on new foliage and not be badly affected. That is what we are monitoring."

Experts say there is nothing you can do now to control the problem but spray an insecticide if the insect is falling on your small trees or shrubs.

Also the city has grants available to help neighbors buy bands for the trees. For more information, click here.

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