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15 Aug 2017

Drought Stress and Tree Health – What You Need to Know

The Short- and Long-Term Effects of Drought on Trees and How to Combat Them


With the effects of climate change becoming more evident and undeniable, one of the most popular discussions among arborists and gardeners is drought and trees, specifically how to alleviate the stresses experienced by trees and shrubs brought on by drought.

This is such a crucial topic because the lack of water won’t only cause certain plants and trees to slowly wilt and die, but it can severely affect plant development and growth as well.

Plants, especially trees, can experience short-term and long-term effects from drought. Short-term stresses can go away once rain starts pouring in regularly again. However, the long-term stresses can linger on even after the rain returns.

So what are these stresses, these detrimental effects on trees that are brought about by drought? What can you do, as a tree owner, to help your trees survive the drought and recover?


Drought and Trees: The Short- and Long-Term Effects

As your trees continue to starve from lack of moisture, symptoms will start to appear. Some are quite obvious, while others not so much.


Wilting of Leaves

Wilting is the first and the most obvious sign of tree health problem brought about by drought, although not exclusively. Wilting may also be caused by other detrimental factors. But this is the first sign that you will most likely notice on your trees and shrubberies during a drought.


Premature Shedding of Leaves

The fall season is typically the time when trees start to shed their leaves and they prepare to go into hibernation for the winter. During a drought, however, trees and other plant life can go into premature shedding; their leaves will slowly wither and die, due to the lack of water and ground moisture.

There’s just isn’t enough water to sustain the tree, so it starts to shed its leaves as a form of defense.


Dramatic Reduction of Photosynthesis

Photosynthesis is crucial to a tree’s growth and development. It’s the machinery that enables trees to absorb sunlight and synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. If the tree’s ability to photosynthesize is compromised, it could have serious, long-term, and even fatal effects on the tree’s ability to recover and survive.

Imagine if something were to happen to your digestive system, if it’s compromised in some way. How will you be able to process the food you’re taking in? How will you be able to absorb the nutrients that your body needs in order to properly function?


Pest and Insect Infestation

With the lack of water and a compromised ability to photosynthesize, trees will become weak and susceptible to pest attack. They won’t be able to adjust or defend against the onslaught of insects that are trying to survive the drought as well. And this will only weaken the tree even more, causing long-term damage that may be difficult to recover from.

So those are just a few of the potential effects that trees may experience during a drought. The question now is how do you mitigate or lessen the effects of drought on your trees? What can you do to protect them and give them the best chance to recover?


Tree Care Tips during a Drought


  1. Water your trees, but water appropriately.

During a drought, you’re going to need to water your trees and shrubs regularly. But you need to be mindful of the amount of water, the frequency of which you water the trees, and the type of tree you’re watering. Remember that not all trees require the same amount of water or the same frequency. Some species require less, while others may need more.


  1. Check your trees for signs of stress.

It’s important to inspect your trees for any sign of stress or symptoms, especially those mentioned on the first part of this article, so you can take the appropriate action to mitigate those symptoms. Keep in mind that there are symptoms that take longer to appear, while there are those that materialize almost immediately.


  1. Skip the fertilizer and focus on mulching instead.

During a drought, a tree’s root system is susceptible to damage from the salts and other strong chemicals from fertilizers due to lack of water. So instead of adding fertilizer, you should do some mulching instead, in order to preserve soil moisture and protect the root system from further damage.


  1. Consult a certified arborist.

Your best asset in helping your trees recover from a drought is having a certified arborist guiding you on what to do along the way. Arborists know about trees better than anyone. So if you see signs of drought stress on your trees, contact your local arborist as soon as possible.


More info: photo by chillervirus


07 Apr 2017
Which Bugs Are Bad For Trees?

Which Bugs Are Dangerous to the Health of My Trees?

Destructive Tree Insects You Hope to Never Find in Your Property


Are you sick and tired of pesky critters damaging your trees and shrubberies, eating away at the foliage until the plant ends up looking like it has been ravaged by a storm?

Seriously, how do you get over the fact that you’ve spent a lot of effort, time, and money on having your ornamental trees and garden look vibrant and beautiful only for them to be destroyed by an insect infestation?

Just imagine . . .

An elegant thriving Japanese maple tree, with its red lacy leaves adding natural beauty and luster to your garden. But because of an infestation of bugs like Japanese beetles, scales, aphids, mealybugs, and borer insects, it’s slowly withering away like an old diseased tree in autumn.

What can you do to keep this from happening to your trees and shrubberies? Is there a way to control insect infestation in trees?

The best and most practical solution is to be proactive. Prevention is the key to controlling these pests. And the way to do that is to learn to identify bugs that are bad for trees and knowing how to get rid of them before they become a serious problem.


Bugs Bad for Trees You Should Watch Out For

There are myriad insects that thrive on various species of plant life. Most are virtually harmless; they merely use the plants for shelter or to hunt for prey.

However, there are those who feed on the plants and cause serious damage, either from the outside-in or vice versa. These are the destructive insects you should be aware of, so you can learn to spot them and get rid of the pests before it’s too late.

There are three basic types of destructive insects that thrive on trees and other plant life; the burrowing or borer insects, the chewing or defoliating insects, and the sucking insects.


Burrowing Insects

Borers are perhaps the most harmful to trees out of the bunch. These types of insects, also called tunneling insects, burrow deep inside stems, twigs, and even roots to lay their eggs. It’s the larvae from the eggs that cause the most damage to the tree, hindering the tree’s ability to absorb water and nutrients.

Some of these burrowing insects include:

  • Asian Longhorned Beetle
  • Elm Bark Beetle
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bronze Birch Borer
  • Dogwood Borer

The most effective method for keeping these types of insects away from your plants is through preventive measures. Always make sure that your trees are well-maintained, properly pruned, watered, and mulched. Pruning should only be done in the late fall or during winter so as not to attract insects to open cuts/wounds.


Defoliating Insects

If borer insects wreak havoc on trees from the inside-out, chewing or defoliating insects cause damage from the outside by eating away at the leaves, buds, and flowers. Some chewing insects, however, attack the fruit of fruit-bearing trees. The majority of these types of insects are comprised of caterpillars and beetles.

A few examples of these types of bugs include:

  • Japanese Beetle
  • Tent Caterpillar
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Spring and Fall Cankerworm
  • Cherry Fruit Worm
  • Leafminers
  • Bagworm

Once these defoliating insects are found in your trees, the best course of action is to use physical barriers to control insect movement. Certain insecticides may also be used with the approval of a Certified Arborist. But the best defense against chewing insects is proper care and maintenance.


Sucking Insects

As their name suggests, sucking insects inflict damage on plant life by sucking out fluids from the leaves and twigs like vampires. But instead of sucking and feeding on blood, they feed on plant juices, including the nutrients that the plant needs to thrive.

Most of these types of bugs seldom move or migrate. They typically stay in one location, living under a hard protective coating. Their byproduct is a sticky substance called honeydew, which contains unprocessed plant material and often promotes mold growth that can harm the tree foliage.

Sucking insects include:

  • Aphids
  • Spider Mites
  • Thrips
  • Leafhoppers
  • Scale Insects

The best recommendation for controlling the spread of sucking insects is to immediately kill them on contact to prevent reproduction. But of course, proper tree care and maintenance is always an effective approach.


More info:


Flickr photo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture

16 Mar 2017
Bugs and Trees - what you need to know

Bugs and Trees – What You Need to Know

Does this sound familiar?

You do all you can to take good care of the trees in your property. You conduct comprehensive research on the various DIY techniques to make the trees look good and vibrant, and you even hire a tree service to do the pruning and seasonal maintenance. Then, you find out that your tree is suffering from a disease caused by insect infestation.


We’ve all been there.


If you love trees, and have invested quite a lot in planting and maintaining them just to add beauty and value to your property, bugs in trees is a scenario you never want to hear from your tree guy. Insect infestation on trees is something that you never want to take lightly. If left untreated, certain species of insects can potentially kill a tree in a frighteningly short amount of time.

Here are a few of the insects that live on, in, and around trees that you should watch out for if you’re concerned about tree health and want to protect your investment from some of the most devastating species around.


The Different Types of Tree Insects and How to Prevent Them from Spreading

Although there are countless species of insects out there, most of them are actually harmless to trees. There are, however, a few that can wreak havoc on the development and structural integrity of your beloved trees.

These damage-causing bugs are classified into three main types: the boring/tunneling insects, chewing insects, and sucking insects.


Boring or Tunneling Insects

These types of bugs are considered to be among the most harmful to trees. If left untreated, boring insects can cause irreparable damage to a tree, even death. Borer insects cause damage by boring into limbs, stems, and the root system of a tree.

These insects dig tunnels inside a tree for various reasons. Some do it for feeding purposes, while others burrow into the tree for reproduction purposes, to lay their eggs. When hatched, the larvae may burrow deeper into the tree, causing damage to its water-conducting tissues.

If the infestation gets serious enough, the leaves of the tree will suffer from nutritional and moisture starvation, resulting in irreparable damage and death to the tree.

Types of Boring Insects:

  • Asian Longhorned Beetle
  • Dogwood Borer
  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Bronze Birch Borers
  • Elm Bark Beetles
  • Giant Palm Weevil


You should know that any burrowing or boring insect can cause serious harm to a tree, because they disrupt the physiology of the plant.

The key to keeping borer insects away from your tree is through preventive maintenance. This includes regular proper pruning, mulching, fertilization, and watering. Although some borer insects can be killed off by using insecticides, there are some, like the Emerald Ash Borer, that are much harder to combat once the infestation gets serious enough.


Chewing or Defoliating Insects

These types of insects generally attack the foliage of a tree, feeding on its leaves. There are chewing insects, however, that attack the fruit of a fruit-bearing tree. Caterpillars and beetles are the most common types of chewing insects.

For what it’s worth, most trees can be treated and bounce back from an infestation of these defoliating bugs. However, repeat infestation is not uncommon and could severely weaken the tree over time as it continues to starve the plant of chemical energy.

Types of Chewing Insects:

  • Bagworm
  • Eastern Tent Caterpillar
  • Fall Webworm
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Japanese Beetle
  • Mimosa Webworm
  • Apple Maggot
  • Cherry Fruit Worm
  • Leafminers
  • Spring and Fall Cankerworm


Well-maintained and healthy trees have less chances of getting an infestation of defoliating insects, so clearly the best way to keep them off your tree is through an effective prevention maintenance plan.


Sucking Insects

These types of insects can cause damage to a tree by sucking out nutrient-rich plant juices from leaves and twigs, essentially robbing the tree of the liquid it needs to stay healthy and survive. The presence of honeydew, which contains unprocessed plant material, is a telltale sign of a sucking insect infestation.


Types of Sucking Insects:

  • Aphids
  • Leafhoppers
  • Euonymus Scale and other Scale Insects
  • Spider Mites
  • Thrips


Just like any other insect infestation, the best way to avoid sucking insects is through prevention. Consult a local tree expert or a Certified Arborist to figure out the best preventive maintenance plan or the best course of action, if infestation is already apparent.


More info: photo by Louis Blythe