A tree’s health is always at risk for disease and pest infestation. Even if you aren’t a certified arborist, early seeing the signs of infestation can help you treat your tree in time to save it from irreversible damage. Knowing how to identify the signs of insect infestation and disease is crucial to understanding how to respond and move forward with treatment.
Insect pests and bacterial diseases can look similar to the untrained eye, but knowing what is affecting your tree is crucial to finding the proper treatment solution for your tree. Here are some common signs of pest infestation and what you can do to help minimize damage to your tree’s health.
Spotting the Signs of an Infested Tree
Sometimes it’s evident that your trees have a problem. Other times, you have to look around to see what’s happening.
If you’re not sure if your trees are sick or harboring pests, keep an eye out for these signs:
- thinning leaves or needles
- holes bored into leaves
- unusual leaf sizes
- discoloration of needles or leaves
- stalled branch growth
- holes or loose bark on the trunk
- Lifting roots, look around for any insects that may be present. If you can identify the culprit or capture one of the insects to bring to an arborist, it will be easier to find a treatment solution.
Common Types of Pests in Central Florida
An infested tree caused by insects can be a frustrating problem. While there are many different types of insects that may attack your trees, there are some general signs you can look for to discover if you have an infestation and some ways to get rid of the pests.
Gypsy moths are known for their ability to defoliate hardwood trees, like elms and oaks. They lay their eggs in clusters of up to 500 on tree trunks, and the larvae hatch in the spring. If left untreated, these hungry caterpillars can wipe a tree clean in just a couple of weeks!
Red spider mites generally feast on flowering fruit trees. The eggs are laid on the bark in such numbers that they can quickly overwhelm any tree. In one-week, red spider mites can grow from larvae to adults with prime environmental conditions.
The rapid development leads to extensive damage as the mite’s suck fluids from individual leaf cells, causing a flecked or stippled appearance. As the infestation grows, the foliage takes on bronze and yellow coloration while some trees suffer stunted growth or even death.
You may have an aphid problem if you notice your tree leaves curling, becoming yellow, stunted, or covered in white sap. Aphids are soft-bodied insects that suck plant sap from terminal growth leaves, causing the tree leaves to turn yellow and wilt.
Common Types of Tree Diseases
You might have noticed that your tree is looking a little off. Maybe it’s shedding its leaves when it shouldn’t be, or they look withered and brown. Or perhaps there are small bumps on the trunk or even fungus growing on the bark.
These could all be signs of tree disease, and you need to figure out which one right away so you can treat it. If you don’t identify the disease and take care of it, you put your tree in danger: some conditions can kill it entirely.
Fusiform rust is a stem disease, meaning that it infects the trunk and branches of the tree. If you find this disease affecting your trees, you’ll need to remove those trees to protect yourself and your property from possible damage.
Fusiform rust is caused by a fungus called Cronartium quercuum. It’s most common in native pine trees like the slash pine and loblolly. You can identify fusiform rust by its cigar-shaped galls on the tree’s main stem and its yellow-orange blisters or rust-colored spores if the infected trunk or branch breaks open.
Laurel wilt is a fungal disease that affects the redbay, swamp bay, and avocado tree. It’s caused by Raffaelea lauricola and is introduced by the nonnative redbay ambrosia beetle, and the disease is fatal.
The signs of laurel wilt include wilting leaves that turn brown rapidly and dark streaks beneath the bark that are bluish-blackish in color. You may also notice tiny holes with sawdust tubes on the trunk and limbs of your tree.
If you think you have an infested tree because of laurel wilt, the best thing to do is remove it to slow down the spread of the disease. Make sure you chip or burn the tree, including its stump. Insecticides and fungicides have not proven to be effective when treating laurel wilt.
Maintain your trees to prevent pest infestation, diseases, and infested trees.
The best way to keep your trees healthy and thriving is to perform regular maintenance. This includes removing dead or diseased branches, cleaning up fallen leaves or fruit, and pruning the tree.
Make sure your trees are getting enough water and sunlight. Many trees need about an inch of water per week during the growing season, although you should check with your local tree company to see what is recommended for your specific species. Watering deeply once per week is better than watering shallowly every day.
If you spot signs of pests or disease, act quickly to prevent them from spreading. You can contact a professional for assistance in identifying the problem and treating it.
Infested Tree: Conclusion
If you have already started to see signs of disease, treat it immediately. The longer you wait, the worse it will get, or another pest could take over. Similarly, keeping your tree’s environment healthy and free from stress will help prevent infestations or diseases from growing or spreading. Identifying signs of insects and conditions can help you better recognize when your tree is ill and prepare for treatment.
Our ISA-certified arborist can help you spot the signs of an infestation or disease on your trees. Don’t hesitate to give us a call; time is of the essence in these situations.