Ahhh spring; a time of bright blooms, 70 something temperatures, and sunny blue skies courtesy of Mother Nature. But we’re not the only ones taking advantage of the warm weather. Sucking and chewing pest's alike favor this time of year to fill up their bellies, mate, and live out their life in your beautiful tree. Without preventative treatments, your tree could become the victim of unsightly (and sometimes fatal) damage. Not only are your trees susceptible to this damage, but they are also prone to the disease these pests carry.
What kind of pests are we talking here?
Different trees can be susceptible to different pests. But we will
go over a few of the common pests who love these seasons as
much as we do.
Glassy Winged Sharpshooter: This pest is a leaf hopping sucking
insect that is a vector of the bacterial disease Xylella fastidiosa.
This disease causes the Xylem tissue to become blocked,
eventually killing the tree. There is no cure for Xylella but
different treatment methods have shown promise in disease
management and prolonged life whilst being infected. This
disease can affect Olives, American Sweetgum Liquidambars,
Plums, and other species. A common sign of Glassy Winged
Sharpshooter is the feeling of rain when standing under a tree
when there is not a cloud in sight. This is usually the result of
Sharpshooter waste as it is feeding on the tree.
Bark Beetles: Bark beetles can come in many different species.
Certain species have different hosts of tree species. They are
attracted to stressed, sick, or dying trees and can kill a tree
extremely fast by feeding and reproducing in the inner
bark/Phloem (nutrients carrying tissue). Certain species can
carry diseases such as the more famous Dutch Elm Disease
carried by the American Elm Bark Beetle. This disease wiped out
an extremely large population of the American Elm trees in a
relatively short amount of time.
Borers: These pests tunnel throughout the trees destroying life
sustaining tissues inside the trees. Like the Bark Beetle, they can
be fatal to a tree in a short amount of time. Also similar to the
Bark Beetle, they can come in many different species who have
varying hosts. Common borers are Eucalyptus Long Horned
Borer and Flat head borers.
Polyphagous Shot Hole Borer: This boring beetle affects many
different species (hence the name “poly”) including Sycamores,
Mulberrys, Oaks, and Avocados. It is a relatively new pest to California. Once it bores inside the tree, it leaves its eggs behind. It also leaves behind a fungus called Fusarium for their larvae to feed on upon hatching. This fungus causes the Xylem (water-carrying tissue) to become blocked, thus preventing the tree from getting life sustaining water and nutrients. There is no cure for this fungus yet.
Spring and summer also serve as favorable conditions for fungal diseases to spread such as Anthracnose and Powdery Mildew.
There is research being done to help fight the ambrosia beetle and the Fusarium. Which is now known to attack more than 110 different tree species. A systemic insecticide and fungicide can be sprayed onto the trunk of the tree. The tree takes the chemicals into the vascular system of the tree and helps to kill the beetle and fight the fusarium dieback disease. Also a systemic insecticide can be trunk injected into the tree.
We need rain to get the chemicals up into the tree. If the trees are not watered the chemicals will not be able to move through the cambium tissue.
So what do I need to do to give my tree the healthcare it needs?
First things first, you will need an arborist that can consult on your tree and observe its growing conditions. We can help you with that. Then if your arborist observes any health issues, they can recommend the best course of treatment. Obviously, preventative treatments are best to help keep your tree in tip-top shape. However, we understand it is not always practical. If your tree becomes infested with pests, suppression and management is key. Treatments can include topical sprays, injections, and drenches. Your arborist will go over with you the best course of treatment. Even if your tree has become infected with one of the diseases that has no cure, there may still be treatments that can prolong the life of your tree and help manage the disease. Again, this will be something your arborist can discuss with you.
What about us organic folk?
Depending on the type of tree and infestation, we do have organic materials that can help keep your tree healthy. Other methods of pest management include biological control such as the release of beneficial insects and systems to attract pest eating birds. Once again, your arborist can discuss this with you.
Are treatments guaranteed?
Because trees deal with complex biological functions, Consultations for your trees must always be treated just like a consultation from your doctor. Your doctor advises you on the best course for your health and you choose whether or not to follow your doctor’s advice. Rarely, will you ever find a doctor that can guarantee results. Even if we do everything we possibly can, it is ultimately up to Mother Nature on whether your tree lives to its full potential.