Bagworms are emerging from bags in Nebraska!


School parking lots, strip malls, and neighborhood trees become infested with bagworms

There are a few insects that really bug Nebraskans, but one of those are bagworms. Bagworms are a major pest of coniferous or evergreen trees from June to August. These destructive caterpillars are called bagworms because they feed, grow, and live all, or most of their lives inside a bag. They remain mobile though because their head and thoracic legs stick out as they feed all over the host plant. When they are disturbed they can retract and cinch up the bag, which is already highly camouflaged.


Bagworm infestations go unnoticed for years, until evergreens start to show symptoms

Bagworms are a pest of juniper, pine, spruce, arborvitae and other evergreen species. They will also feed on deciduous trees like shade, ornamental, and fruit trees, but  because deciduous plants drop their leaves and grow new ones each year, the defoliation does not often kill the tree. Evergreen trees though, do not shed their needles and large populations of bagworms can kill the tree.


Bagworm damage includes bronzing, defoliation, and sometimes tree death

Hundreds of tiny bagworm caterpillars in Nebraska emerge from their bag(s) in late May/early June. (The first ones ones I saw were in Omaha May 25, 2019). They begin feeding and promptly find protection by covering themselves with a protective bag made from silk and their host plant material. They feed and grow, as as they do, their bags become enlarged. Mature caterpillars stop eating in August and attach the bag a branch with a strong strand of silk and pupate inside. Male bagworms pupate and emerge as moths in the fall. Females bagworms transform into a wingless moth, but do not leave the bag. Males moths locate the female bags, mate with the females, and then die shortly thereafter. After the female lays 200-300 eggs inside her bag, she dies, and the eggs overwinter. The eggs are heavily insulated inside the pupal case inside the silk bag.  There is one generation per year.

Bagworm Larva - 6-1-18 (2)

Young bagworms are 1/8-inch long

Dealing with bagworms can be extremely frustrating because:

  1. Bagworms remain incognito until major damage is detected.
  2. Newly emerged bagworms can disperse with the wind from nearby trees.
  3. Bagworms are difficult to control in large trees (like windbreaks) because they are cannot be reached to physically remove or treat with insecticides.
  4. Bagworms remain protected in the bag and there is a small window for effective insecticide treatment (after caterpillars hatch, but before bags are 1/2-inch long).
  5. Bagworms are not picky about their host plant and will feed on all types of plants. 
    Bagworms will crawl away and infest another plant if they are not destroyed

Management for bagworms include:

  • Cutting or handpicking the bags off and destroying them before caterpillars emerge late May.
  • Destroy bagworms by dropping them in a bucket of soapy water or seal them in an airtight bag that they cannot escape.
  • Bacillius thuringiensis (kurstaki) is a biological insecticide that can be applied to foliage to kill young caterpillars as they feed.
    • Must have complete coverage
    • Must be consumed to be effective
    • Works best in June when bagworms are small

For our bagworm infographic.

Watch the bagworm segment from Backyard Farmer

Recent bagworm article from Lincoln Journal Star by Sarah Browning

Everyone benefits when we volunteer!

Everyone involved in a volunteer program reaps the benefits. Over $60 billion is estimated to be contributed annually to the U.S. economy by virtue of volunteer services. Volunteering also helps various service organizations, for instance, by cutting down costs of operations and making services available to a larger audience.

Volunteerism promotes positive citizenship among youth by encouraging them to be more engaged in their own communities. Youth who volunteer feel more connected to their community, are more likely to show concern, and to stay in or return to their communities. Thus, youth volunteerism contributes substantially to community vitality.

Adults can help encourage youth to volunteer by sharing ideas and volunteer opportunities. Help youth find a service activity that fits their skills, interests, and passion. Be a role model and encourage the entire family to volunteer together.

We have a free list of 366 Community Service Ideas for youth (and adults). Visit

The categories include:

  • Children, Family and Friends
  • Special Calendar Day Events
  • Crime Prevention
  • School Activities
  • Government
  • General
  • Helping Animals
  • Helping the Hungry and/or Homeless
  • Those with Special Needs
  • Neighborhood Enhancement
  • Performing Arts and Sports
  • Senior Citizens
  • The Environment

Check out these Nebraska Extension resources – free, online:

Contact your local extension office and ask about 4-H Programs in your community. 4-H adult and youth volunteers are difference-makers in our communities! Find your extension office here

Have a great day!!

Soni Cochran

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Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

Source: Youth Volunteerism by Maria R. T. de Guzman, Extension Adolescent Specialist.

Festive, tasty and kid-friendly green smoothie – Recipe of the Month

This recipe accompanied an article by Kayla Colgrove, MS, RDN, ACSM-CPT, Extension Educator, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County. It appears in the March 2019 issue of the NEBLINE Newsletter

Clover Power Smoothie

(Photo by Kayla Colgrove, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County)

For St. Patrick’s Day, I rename this recipe “Shamrocks & Gold Smoothie” to celebrate with a festive, tasty and kid-friendly green smoothie.

(Makes 4 Cups)

2/3 cup 100% apple juice*
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach**
2 cups frozen pineapple chunks, no sugar added
1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt***
1 banana

1. Add apple juice and spinach leaves to blender. Blend first to help make it smooth and avoid leafy chunks.
2. Place the remaining ingredients in the blender.
3. Blend until smooth and serve.

Kayla’s notes:
*You can substitute low-fat or nonfat milk or 100% white grape juice for 100% apple juice. Adding milk instead of 100% fruit juice will lower the calories and sugar while adding extra calcium to help strengthen bones.

**You can use kale instead of spinach. Kale does have a stronger flavor than spinach. I really like using spinach since it has little to no flavor.

***To make the smoothie even healthier, use nonfat vanilla yogurt or nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt instead of low-fat vanilla yogurt.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 cup): 135 Calories, 1g Total Fat, 0g Saturated Fat, 35mg Sodium, 31g Total Carbs, 24g Sugars, 2g Dietary Fiber, 2g Protein

Read “Eat more dark-green veggies for St. Patrick’s Day and beyond” in the March 2019 Nebline Newsletter. Available free on-line!

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit (nationwide listing).

Have a great day!!


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Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

Small Flies Indoors During the Winter? Check Potted Plants

Fungus gnats are nuisance pests that occur indoors throughout the winter months. They breed and develop in overwatered potted plants. Many people do not realize plants take up less water in the winter, continue to water regularly, thereby creating a suitable habitat in the soil for the fungus gnat to complete its life cycle.

fungus gnats on dime

Fungus gnats are very small, often mistaken for fruit flies.

Adults are grayish-black, about 1/8-inch long and have one pair of wings. At first glance, they may appear similar to fruit flies, but they complete their development in top layers of soil. Females lay 100–150 eggs in moist potting soil and the larvae feed and develop on the fungi and organic matter. Fungus gnat larvae are white, slender, legless maggots with translucent bodies and dark heads. Larval feeding sometimes includes gnawing on the roots and stems of plants.

fungus gnat

When magnified, fungus gnats have dark-colored body, long antennae and Y-shaped wing vein.

In warm conditions, overlapping generations may occur, producing large populations which can cause spotting, curling, yellowing or plant death. After pupating in the soil, they emerge as winged adults, bothering people by flying around faces, lights, windows and food items.

In order to eliminate a fungus gnat infestation, the life cycle must be broken. This can be done by removing the fungus in which they breed, while simultaneously reducing the number of breeding and egg-laying adults. A non-chemical approach is to reduce the topsoil moisture by less frequent watering, drying out the soil and changing the plant medium to provide better drainage.

fungus gnats in jade plant

Fungus gnats breed in the moist soil of potted plants.

To catch flying adults, yellow sticky card traps are available at garden stores and placed at the soil surface. In addition, there are biological control products such as the microorganism, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which is applied to the soil to kill larvae after ingestion. Bti (subspecies israelensis) is selective to insect fly larvae, non-toxic to humans, pets and contains no harmful residues. A product labeled to control fungus gnats in plant beds or pots include Mosquito Bits® by Summit Chemical Company.

Check out our guide to help identify other common pesky flies that may be bugging you in your home. For help with vinegar flies or fruit flies, check out this blog post.screen shot 2019-01-22 at 10.13.35 am

Confessions of an Extension Entomologist: I have two plants in my home that have to get dry and droopy before I water them. I do not have a green thumb.

Keep calm and respect the critters,


Sticky situation: Using glue boards to monitor pests

by Jody Green, Extension Educator

IMM stuck to Pheromone traps

Pheromone traps use a natural chemical compounds from female moths to attract males to a sticky glueboard. Photo by Jody Green, Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.

Now that it is winter, some may think the critters that bugged us through the spring, summer and fall are gone due to the cold weather. Unfortunately for homeowners and apartment residents, many insects and other arthropods remain quite active indoors during this time, where they become unwelcomed house pests.

Protecting your home

There are simple, non-toxic and cost-effective tools that can be purchased to monitor the presence of pests in your home. If something is caught, it should be identified to determine whether it is of concern and whether control measures are required. It is important to understand that while these monitors may catch pests in your home, they may not be enough to control or eliminate them completely.


Sticky traps, glue traps or glue boards are inexpensive, disposable, non-toxic cardboard or plastic trays with special glue on one side to capture pests. These can be purchased at local hardware and grocery stores and may be labeled for insects, spiders and/or rodents, but a variety of crawling pests are likely to get caught on these traps if pests are present.

Continue reading

Parenting information when you need it

Reading to young childrenAre you expecting your first child? Do you have children or grandchildren? Finding reliable parenting information and advice on the web can be overwhelming! How do you know what you can trust? Just in Time Parenting e-newsletters from our eXtension partners are reliable and relevant resources – and they are free!

Just in Time Parenting Newsletters include:

  • Easy to use guides on how your child is developing
  • Tips on raising a healthy, happy child
  • Tools for solving common parenting problems
  • Strategies for coping with the challenges of raising children

Why should parents choose Just in Time Parenting?

  • Timely automatic delivery directly to your inbox
  • Available in English and Spanish
  • Access to full-color PDFs for printing and sharing
  • Links to podcasts, videos, and other resources
  • Commercial free — no toy or product ads
  • Based on research and written by experts who are parents themselves!

Visit Just in Time Parenting –

Here’s to a terrific 2019!


Responsive. Innovative. Trusted.
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –

NEBLINE Newsletter. Available free online.

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit (nationwide listing).

Put Your Christmas Tree to Good Use

by Sarah Browning, Extension Educator – Horticulture

Add fruit garland to your Christmas Tree

Add fruit garland to your Christmas Tree

Before taking your Christmas tree to the recycling center this year, consider using it to create backyard habitat for birds. To attract birds to your backyard, you must provide their three basic needs- food, water, and cover or shelter. Your old Christmas tree will provide excellent shelter for birds, providing protection from wind and predators. It can also serve as a feeding station, where you provide a buffet of food that our native birds love.

Before taking the tree outside, remove all decorations and lights, including tinsel. To provide the most shelter possible for the birds, place the tree on the south or east side of the house, sheltered from winter’s harsh north and west winds. Anchor the tree securely by setting the stump into the ground or a large bucket of damp sand, and securing the top of the tree with twine to nearby building, fence or trees.

There are several more ways to recycle your Christmas tree. Learn more, read the entire article “Recycling Ideas – Christmas Trees“.

If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit (nationwide listing).

Have a great day!!


Responsive. Innovative. Trusted.
Nebraska Extension provides research-based information to help you make informed decisions any time, any place, anywhere –