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Fall Cankerworm May Have Larger Impact Due to Tanglefoot Shortage

One of the largest threats to the tree canopy of many North Carolina cities and towns will begin crawling out of the ground in December, all jaws and stomach with a ravenous appetite, and what a tangled web they weave. This holiday season millions of fall cankerworms begin climbing into the crowns of North Carolina trees, creating a new generation of pests to eat away one of North Carolina’s greatest natural assets. And this year North Carolina will be less prepared to fight back!

The fall cankerworm (Alsophila pometraria) is an ever growing threat to urban forests in both North Carolina and South Carolina, especially to cities and towns in the Piedmont areas of these two states. The negative impacts on tree canopy and the nuisances created by this native insect have been well-documented in North Carolina. Cities like Charlotte and Raleigh have long felt the impact of the cankerworm. South Carolina may be seeing a larger impacts going forward. The City of Rock Hill, SC has seen a significant increase in cankerworm problems within the past few years and has increased its management response associated with the insect. However, this year the capacity for all municipalities, community groups and citizens will be reduced by the significant shortage of one of the most effective tools available to manage the fall cankerworm……Tanglefoot Insect Barrier.

Tanglefoot is an extremely sticky substance that is applied to tree bands. It acts as a very effective trap and barrier for crawling insects. The company that previously manufactured and distributed Tanglefoot has gone out of business. It’s rumored that a very large lawn and landscape company now owns the rights to manufacture Tanglefoot, and may do so in the future. But right now, Tanglefoot is available in very small quantities or not at all from online retailers. Local retailers are the same, with most having no Tanglefoot to offer at all.

There are alternate options for tree banding beyond Tanglefoot. The BugBarrier Tree Band is a product offered by Envirometrics Systems USA and has proven to be very effective in trapping cankerworms. The BugBarrier method differs slightly from the Tanglefoot method as it has an inward-facing adhesive on the band, but the overall concept is the same by using a sticky substance to prevent crawling cankerworms from ascending up into the canopy. Visit for more information related to the BugBarrier product and vendor availability.


The upper band in the above photo displays a tree band utilizing Tanglefoot method. The lower

band is the BugBarrier Tree Band and shows this product’s inward-facing band used to trap fall



Another alternate option for tree banding is Catchmaster Tree Banding Glue. This is a relatively new product that is applied and functions the same way as the Tanglefoot method. More information on the Catchmaster product can be found at