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Bag worms invade memorial parks
Infestation has been treated
new deh county commission bag worm
Pictured is a bag worm and the damage bag worms can do to a tree. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

About a month ago, Barton County personnel discovered bag worms had invested the trees at the two county-owned memorial parks, Golden Belt and Hillcrest, north of Great Bend.

It was determined that the health of the trees was in jeopardy, County Works Director Darren Williams told the County Commission Monday morning. He then requested quotes from Pro-Green and Miller Lawns to spray pesticides at the site.

Williams said Miller provided a quote of $2,325 was best fit and authorized the company to do the work. The commission Monday morning ratified the treatment.

The infestation is to the point where a second treatment may be required, Williams said. 

According to Kansas State Research and Extension, bag worm caterpillars make distinctive 1.5 to 2 inch long spindle-shaped bags that can be seen hanging from twigs of a variety of trees and shrubs. Sometimes the bags are mistaken for pine cones or other plant structures. 

They prefer juniper, arborvitae, spruce, pine, and cedar but also attack deciduous trees. Female moths cannot fly but the larvae can disperse. Very small caterpillars can spin strands of silk and be carried by wind, an activity called “ballooning”. Larger larvae may crawl to adjacent plants.

Bag worms pass the winter as eggs (300 or more) inside bags that served as cocoons for last year’s females. 

Each uses silk and bits of plant material to make a small bag that protects and camouflages it as during feeding and growth. 

Bag worm caterpillars feed for about six weeks, enlarging the bag as they grow and withdrawing into it when disturbed. Older larvae strip evergreens of their needles and devour whole leaves of susceptible deciduous species leaving only the larger veins. When abundant, the caterpillars can defoliate plants. Heavy infestations over several consecutive years, especially when coupled with other stresses, can lead to plant death.

In other business Monday morning, the commission:

• Approved repairs to guardrails on the Arkansas River bridge south of Ellinwood. On June 10, a vehicle accident destroyed the guardrail on one south corner of the bridge, County Engineer Barry McManaman said. He received two quotes for the work to remove and replace 62.5 feet of rail and posts. 

The bid best meeting the needs of the County was submitted by Fulsom Brothers Inc. of Cedar Vale for $8,740.32. 

Once the repairs are complete, Emergency Management Director Amy Miller will send the invoice to the driver’s insurance company for reimbursement.