How to Use Tanglefoot
Tanglefoot is a great product for trees to help them combat over-wintering bugs that cause springtime damage to your trees. These insects include gypsy moths, cankerworms, weevils, ants, caterpillars, moths and cutworms.
If you’ve never used this product before then I’ll share with you a few helpful tips on how to use Tanglefoot to make it an easier task. Tanglefoot is OMRI rated and certified for organic gardening.
“The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is an international nonprofit organization that determines which input products are allowed for use in organic production and processing”
What is Tanglefoot anyway?
It’s an earth friendly pesticide made from a naturally occurring gum resin. It’s a very sticky substance that resembles thick, cold corn syrup or soft wax.
It’s a unique product that, when properly applied it simply traps the crawling insects that are using the trunk of your tree as a highway up to where they’ll nest in the bark for the winter and then wreak havoc on the tree in the spring.
It’ll even catch flying bugs that get too close as well.
It’s possible to damage to your tree or the bark without knowing how to apply this product properly. The most important thing is knowing how to get it on and off the tree while not getting it all over yourself.
Prepare the Tree
It’s very important to wrap your tree in a few rounds of plastic wrap first.
Apply the plastic wrap and product in the early spring and mid-fall to get maximum effect.
It’s important to leave the plastic on for one or two months only each time, never leave it on for an extended period. Definitely don’t leave it on all winter.
The tree breathes through its bark so take off the plastic as soon as it’s not needed.
If you have a mature tree, especially a cherry, they are very lumpy and bumpy with cracks and crevices. It’s important to pack those crevices with cotton balls before wrapping the tree in the plastic. If you skip this step, the bugs will just walk right under the plastic and also the bands of Tanglefoot unobstructed.
The young trees that we commonly plant in containers are usually pretty smooth so you shouldn’t have to use cotton balls for these young ones.
Never apply Tanglefoot directly to the bark of the tree!
Method of Application
Using a putty knife or a cake decorating spatula.
If you choose a putty knife be very careful with the edges and corners as they are very sharp and can easily cut and damage the bark of the tree.
I recommend using a cake decorating spatula because they have rounded edges and it won’t be so quick to cut the bark of the tree.
- Wrap your tree in plastic film
- Soften up a glob of Tanglefoot with the spatula
- Work it into a smooth lump without strings back to the container
- Apply the product in a thin 1″ wide band a few inches from the top of the plastic all the way around the tree creating a complete circle
- Drag your spatula in the same direction that you wrapped the tree with the plastic. (If you go the other way you’ll just pull the plastic off)
- Make another band of Tanglefoot a few inches down from the first band. This creates 2 barriers that work together to stop the pests from walking up your tree
Female Winter Moth
One of the main culprits is the female winter moth. She cannot fly, so she walks up the tree trunk to lay eggs in the bark and crevices of your trees branches.
After she lays the eggs, all the adults die, then the eggs over-winter and survive just fine in your tree. They hatch in the spring when the temperature returns to about 13º Celsius.
Then the eggs hatch, the worms crawl out on the branches of the tree. They produce a silk thread that they drop down on and float on the wind to another tree to spread their destruction further.
When to Apply It
The best times of year to apply this product is in October and March. Leave the bands on for about one month (two months maximum) then remove them. Discard the plastic wrap when it becomes full of bugs, ineffective or the product gets washed away in the rain.
The winter moth is considered an invasive species in many areas and a big problem for orchards and growers on both the west and east coast.
The winter moth is in the class of pests called “defoliators”. Their name describes exactly what they do, they defoliate – remove the leaves – your tree or virtually any shrub or green growing thing they can find.
It’s good practice to incorporate Tanglefoot into your pest control regime if you want to have beautiful healthy cherry trees in your garden.
Your trees will thank you for learning how to use Tanglefoot correctly and they will likely produce a better harvest in the coming year.
See the sequence of gallery images below.
When it’s time, carefully remove the plastic by rolling it inwards on itself (sticky side in of course) and dispose of it in the garbage. It’s incredibly sticky and it takes a little skill to not find yourself covered in it.
If you do get some Tanglefoot on the tree bark itself or your tools, then use mineral spirits or baby oil to remove it. You can also use cleaners that have a citrus base. If you get it on your clothing then I recommend dry cleaning them.
Good luck and let me know if you need further help.
Tanglefoot Paper Tree Wrap – 150 feet