Tree banding time in the Queen City

Gregg Watkins
Gregg.Watkins@ci.charlotte.nc.us
11/27/2019
Tree Banding

It's time for that unique Charlotte fall tradition of wrapping trees to prevent insect damage.    

Sometimes called inch worms, cankerworms climb up trees in late fall, lay their eggs and wait. In the spring, when the leaves emerge, the newly hatched inchworms feast on the tender new leaves and Trees queens roaddrop to the ground to start the process over again.

They primarily target Charlotte's storied willow oak populations.

In the past, cankerworm populations on a single tree could be typically in the thousands for a tree. The pest has dramatically declined in recent years.   

For years, Charlotteans have placed bands around tree trunks in the fall to capture the females as they climb the trees.  Assistant City Arborist Laurie Reid Dukes says a single band on a tree went from capturing 2,000 to 9,000 insects down to just 10 or 12 in recent years.

"No one really knows why," says Dukes.

Residents are being asked to become citizen scientists and help collect data on cankerworms. The city will gather the data and send it to Clemson University to analyze.

Steps include:

  • Measure your tree

  • Band your tree<

  • Choose how you'll enter your data

  • Start tracking

A step-by-step guide can be found at charlottenc.gov/cankerworm. You can also watch this video to learn how to band your tree.

With your help, the city hopes to better understand the cankerworm population in Charlotte and potentially predict the next major infestation.