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Spiritual Meaning Of Cankerworm

A worm is a type of creature which is found in the earth or water and can cause great harm to humans and other living species. They are usually quite small but depending on the worm, some can be very large. They mostly feed on dead plants, wood, and animals. People use worms for fishing and hunting. In a spiritual sense, a cankerworm represents a feeling of bitterness towards life. The Bible speaks often of cankerworms coming upon people who have sinned or their families.

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What Is A Cankerworm

(Heb. yelek), “the licking locust,” which licks up the grass of the field; probably the locust at a certain stage of its growth, just as it emerges from the caterpillar state ( Joel 1:4 ; 2:25 ). The word is rendered “caterpillar” in Psalms 105:34 ; Jer 51:14,17(but RSV “canker-worm”). “It spoileth and fleeth away” ( Nahum 3:16 ), or as some read the passage, “The cankerworm putteth off [i.e., the envelope of its wings], and fleeth away.”

What is The Spiritual Meaning of Cankerworm

In the Bible, the cankerworm is a symbol of people who have been consumed by greed and gluttony. The word “cankerworm” literally translates to mean “worm that eats away,” which helps explain its use as a metaphor for those consumed by vices like greed and gluttony.

This passage in Jeremiah serves as an example: “And I will cause them to eat the flesh of their sons and daughters, and they shall eat every one the flesh of his friend in the siege.” (Jeremiah 19:9) The word used here for “eat” also means “consume,” so when we look at this verse through our lens, it speaks volumes about how easily we are tempted into sinning against God because of our own selfish desires. It also shows us how easy it is for us to become consumed by sin ourselves—we too can be like these worms!

Spiritual Meaning Of Cankerworm

Cankerworm can mean a lot of different things to different people. It is a little, destructive worm that lives inside wood. But the term cankerworm is more often used today to refer to any kind of harmful organism that consumes or destroys organic matter. Cankerworms are not actually worms but, rather, caterpillars. Their scientific name is allarmna, which means to injure or harm because the larvae eat the plant leaves and buds.

The cankerworm is a pest that feeds on trees and shrubs, particularly fruit trees. It’s also known as the fall webworm.

Cankerworms are most active in the spring and fall, when they lay eggs on the leaves of tree branches. The eggs hatch into larvae that feed on the leaves and twigs of trees. They stay there until they turn into moths, which emerge from their cocoons in May or June and lay eggs for the next generation of cankerworms.

Cankerworms aren’t usually serious pests. Their damage is usually limited to minor defoliation and some branch dieback; however, if they’re present in large numbers, they can cause significant damage to trees and shrubs.

The Cankerworm is a symbol of the struggle to balance the spiritual and physical worlds. This cankerworm spends its entire life feeding on the leaves of trees and plants, but it never takes in enough nourishment to survive. It dies every season, only to re-emerge again in another form when spring arrives.

This is why many people believe that cankerworms represent rebirth, or the cycle of life—the birth and death of each new year. They also symbolize self-sacrifice: a willingness to give up what you need most for the good of others.

Cankerworms, also called inchworms, loopers, or spanworms, are caterpillars that move with a distinctive “looping” motion. Small numbers of cankerworms are present every year but occasionally large outbreaks occur. When this happens, cankerworms can cause significant defoliation of a variety of deciduous landscape and forest trees.

Newly hatched larvae eat the soft tissue of young leaves at the tips of branches, giving them a skeletonized appearance. Larger larvae eat all but the midribs or tougher veins of expanded leaves. Most damage occurs about the time the leaves become fully developed. Trees may be completely stripped of foliage; some trees never have a chance to leaf out. Cankerworms have a distinctive appearance and movement because they have fewer fleshy legs along the abdomen than do  typical caterpillars.  Most cankerworms have five pairs of fleshy abdominal legs, including the pair at the tail end. The spring cankerworm has two pairs of these fleshy legs while the  fall cankerworm has three pairs. The color and markings of these caterpillars can vary.  If pale stripes can be seen along the sides of the body, the spring cankerworm has one per side and the fall cankerworm has three.

Cankerworm IdentificationCankerworm Identification

Fall cankerworms emerge as adult moths in late fall. The wingless females crawl up tree trunks onto branches, are mated by winged males, and then lay single‑layered masses of flower‑pot shaped eggs on limbs and trunks. The eggs are the overwintering life stage. Spring cankerworms overwinter as pupae and emerge as moths beginning in February. The wingless females crawl up tree trunks, are mated, then lay oval‑shaped eggs in masses under loose tree bark.

Cankerworm outbreaks sometimes occur two to three years in succession and then virtually disappear for a few years. If an outbreak can be anticipated, tanglefoot applied to tree trunks in a band two to four feet aboveground, will prevent female moths from crawling up and laying eggs in the trees. This technique may be preferred to insecticide sprays especially when dealing with very large trees. 

Usually, outbreaks cannot be anticipated so an insecticide can be applied to prevent complete defoliation of trees.


What Does The Bible Say About The Cankerworm?

Joel 1:4
[4] That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.

> These creatures represent spirits that devour, eat up, lick up, and attempt to ravage the people of God. These spirits are destructive in nature!


[1] The word of the LORD that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.
[2] Hear this, ye old men, and give ear, all ye inhabitants of the land. Hath this been in your days, or even in the days of your fathers?
[3] Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.
[4] That which the palmerworm hath left hath the locust eaten; and that which the locust hath left hath the cankerworm eaten; and that which the cankerworm hath left hath the caterpiller eaten.
[5] Awake, ye drunkards, and weep; and howl, all ye drinkers of wine, because of the new wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
[6] For a nation is come up upon my land, strong, and without number, whose teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he hath the cheek teeth of a great lion.
[7] He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
[8] Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.
[9] The meat offering and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the LORD; the priests, the LORD’s ministers, mourn.
[10] The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth.
[11] Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl, O ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished.
[12] The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
[13] Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
[14] Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly, gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the LORD your God, and cry unto the LORD,
[15] Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.
[16] Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God?
[17] The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered.
[18] How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
[19] O LORD, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field.
[20] The beasts of the field cry also unto thee: for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.


[1] Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand;
[2] A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.
[3] A fire devoureth before them; and behind them a flame burneth: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.
[4] The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses; and as horsemen, so shall they run.
[5] Like the noise of chariots on the tops of mountains shall they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devoureth the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
[6] Before their face the people shall be much pained: all faces shall gather blackness.
[7] They shall run like mighty men; they shall climb the wall like men of war; and they shall march every one on his ways, and they shall not break their ranks:
[8] Neither shall one thrust another; they shall walk every one in his path: and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded.
[9] They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief.
[10] The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining:
[11] And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
[12] Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
[13] And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.
[14] Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God?
[15] Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly:
[16] Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet.
[17] Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?
[18] Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people.
[19] Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen:
[20] But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things.
[21] Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things.
[22] Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.
[23] Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month.
[24] And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil.
[25] And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you.


[1] For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
[2] I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
[3] And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.
[4] Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompence me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;
[5] Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:
[6] The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.
[7] Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:
[8] And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.
[9] Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:
[10] Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
[11] Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.
[12] Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
[13] Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
[14] Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
[15] The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining.
[16] The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
[17] So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
[18] And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
[19] Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
[20] But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
[21] For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.

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