Bagworms are the larvae of a case-making moth. They construct a case or bag from materials in their environment and carry the bag around with them. When they are ready to pupate, they attach the bag to a fixed surface and crawl inside. Males hatch from their bags as moths. They find a female still in her bag and mate. The females do not grow wings and remain worm-like when they pupate. Indoor bagworms eat dead insects, spider webs and other organic materials such as clothing and blankets made of wool. They also eat fungus that grows on wet or rotting wood.
Things You'll Need
Vacuum cleaner and cleaning supplies
Plastic bags that seal
Washer and dryer
Clean your home. Your best line of defense against bagworms is your vacuum cleaner. Clean your entire home of any organic material that is a food source for bagworms. Pay particular attention to removing spider webs and dead bugs from corners and window sills. Discard vacuum cleaner bags or any debris from the vacuum cleaner outside immediately. Cleaning your house removes the food sources of the bagworms. If bagworms don't have food, they will die of starvation.
Store your clothes properly. Since bagworms eat wool fibers, restrict their access to wool. Place any wool clothing or blankets in your house into sealed plastic bags. For added protection, place some mothballs in the sealed bags.
Remove larvae from inside the home. If you find larvae in the house, remove them. If they are in clothing and the infestation is minor, run the clothing through a hot wash cycle and then a hot dryer cycle to kill the bagworms. If the infestation is major, place the clothing in a sealed plastic bag and discard it outside.
Replace rotting wood. Check your home for rotting wood. It may be very obvious that you have moist, rotting wood in your house, because the fungus that grows on rotting wood attracts larger infestations of bagworms. If you suspect an area of rotting wood, use a screwdriver to apply pressure to the area. Rotting wood gives significantly with the pressure of a screwdriver where non-rotten wood will not. Replace any rotten wood that bagworms can access.
Spray insecticide as necessary. If your infestation is more severe, or you cannot wash infested items, use a crack, crevice and surface treatment insecticide to kill the bagworms and moths. Make sure the insecticide label lists bagworms or clothes moths as species that the insecticide kills. Many ornamental rugs and rug pads have wool fibers and may become infested. Where possible, take the infested item outside and treat it there.
There are times when you need a professional. If your bagworm infestation is very severe, contact a professional exterminator to remove the infestation from your home.
If you use insecticide to remove bagworms from your home, make sure you have good ventilation before applying it.
- University of Florida IFAS Extension - EDIS; Clothes Moths and Plaster Bagworms; P. G. Koehler and F. M. Oi, 2003
- BugInfo.com; Clothes Moths
- Indian River County Florida; Paster Bag Worms Love Florida Homes; Daniel F. Culbert, County Extension Director, 1999
- Cornell University Insect Diagnostic Laboratory; Bagworms; Carolyn Klass, 2009