Does Vinegar Kill Bagworms? Here's What You Should Know

If you've noticed small caterpillars with bag-like sacks covering them on your trees, you're likely dealing with bagworms. Though vinegar is sometimes suggested as a natural method for killing bagworms, there is no scientific evidence that this is effective. These insects will munch on the needles or leaves of coniferous and deciduous plants, causing serious damage to your shrubs and trees, and making them lose their gorgeous foliage. In severe cases, a bagworm infestation can kill your trees. Several types of popular trees are bagworm magnets, including spruce, pine, and juniper trees. You'll want to keep an eye out for these pests if these trees are in your yard.

Some online sources suggest that the smell of vinegar attracts bagworms because it is similar to the scent of rotting fruit, allowing you to lure them into traps, or that the common household cleaner will make it harder for these insects to navigate and find food. This has not been proven, but it could be interesting to test for yourself. If you try this method to get rid of bagworms, be aware that it might not be effective and that the vinegar may burn your plants. For the best control, you'll want to remove the caterpillars by hand from your tree and drown them or have it treated with pesticides if there is an abundance of bagworms.

Getting rid of bagworms with vinegar

Though there is no definitive proof that vinegar kills bagworms, you might try experimenting with this method as a natural option to pesticides if you wish. If there is an abundance of these pests harming the trees in your yard, you may need to resort to insecticides.

To do this, you'll first need to see if the insects are sealed inside their bags. When the caterpillars close up their bags, sprays may not be able to reach their bodies. To keep bagworms off your trees, you'll need to make a hole in each bag and spray your affected plant with vinegar. Otherwise, try setting traps with small containers of vinegar and soapy water to see if the bagworms fall for the bait once they hatch. Keep in mind that vinegar is acidic and could scorch the leaves of the tree you're trying to help.

What you should know about killing bagworms

Vinegar is likely not going to be the best option for eliminating bagworms, but a little patience and a bowl of water and dish soap can go a long way. While you inspect your trees, look for the signature bags of these insects and simply pull them right off the plant. You may also try cutting the end of the bag to detach them from the tree. As soon as you've removed the insect, drop it into a container of soap water to drown. If you let the bagworms go, they're likely to end up back on your tree or another plant soon. This method is the most effective when populations are small, and the caterpillars haven't hatched from their bags yet.

In cases of legitimate infestation, there may be too many bagworms for you to find and remove from the trees yourself. This is when pesticides are a good option. Using an insecticide with permethrin, azadiractin, spinosad, or carbaryl or a brand that advertises being effective against bagworms will help eliminate the infestation and save your trees.