Tree banding creates a barrier to protect fruit and shade trees from pests, especiall cankerworms. Cankerworms are small caterpillars that feed on the leaves of broad leaved fruit and shade trees. Tree banding is practiced twice a year to prevent these pests from climbing the trunks of the trees and consuming all the leaves.
Spring tree banding blocks female cankerworms from laying eggs at the crown of trees. Female cankerworms are flightless, and therefore must climb the trees in order to reach the crown for egg laying. A spring tree band prevents the worms from climbing the trees and in some cases, exterminates the worms that are attempting the climb.
Spring tree bands should be at least 6 inches wide, with a slightly larger width being ideal. The band should be long enough to wrap around the tree's trunk and fasten tightly. It should sit 4 1/2 feet from the ground for optimal worm blockage.
Two types of bands are commonly used: Foil-faced insulation and fiberglass insulation. A foil-faced insulation tree band places the insulation side against the tree and sets the foil on the outside. Foil-faced spring tree bands are typically stapled to the tree, and bark holes at the bottom of the band are filled in with putty. Fiberglass insulation banding follows a similar process but uses two layers instead of one. Once a tree band is in place the owners paint the band with a sticky glue known as tanglefoot.
In most climates, you should place spring tree bands by mid-March to be effective. Any later and the worms will already be on the trees. Leave the bands in place until early June. This ensures the worms are completely done laying their eggs.
Bands that are left in place during the wet season cause the tree's bark to rot and become diseased. You can save band materials can be saved and re-apply them again in September during fall tree banding.