Hydrangea bushes have pod like problem for years now

(Question)

I have sprayed them repeatedly every year and still only get 1 or 2 small flowers on my annabel bushes. I read somewhere to remove the pod and clean up the ground below, which I will try next year. What do they mean by “clean up the ground below?” Didn’t attach a picture because the pods have now gone end July, I have repeatedly fertilized but it doesn’t seem to do anything?

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners with your inquiry.

The pod-like structures that you see on your hydrangeas are caused by the hydrangea leaf-tier (Exartema ferriferanum) moth. This insect lays its eggs on the hydrangea branches in either the fall or the spring. Upon hatching, the small green black-headed caterpillars sew two terminal leaves together with silk thread, forming the pod-like enclosure that you observe. The catepillars feed inside this enclosure for approximately 10 days before pupation occurs. The moths make their appearance a week later. There is only one generation per year. While the damage does not threaten the plant’s life, it may cause the flower buds to abort.

Please refer to a couple of our earlier posts for suggestions on how to deal with this pest:

hydrangea – leaf curl with worm inside

Leaf tier worms on hydrangeas