How do I know its an insect issue?
Random dead branches are a good indicator
Holes from boring insects. Surprisingly they can be a lot smaller than this.
This picture may make this bark beetle look big but it is smaller than a grain of rice and they often kill a tree in less than a year.
When many people think of bugs they think of creepy crawly bugs like spiders or cockroaches that really get under your skin. This section will go over different insects that are in trees and what to look for so the wrong pest doesnt kill off your valuable trees.
Bugs are broken down into between 26-29 classifications and each have unique characteristics. Some examples of classification include true bugs, beetles, true flys, ants, bees amongst many others. Many insects are beneficial to plant likfe while others are just feeding off the life of your tree. Which is which and when do you need to control them?
A big nasty dung beetle is crawling around next to your tree and you are wanting to smash it to make sure it doesnt harm the tree. It has infact made a hole right near the base of the tree. Hold up just a second. See the hole next to the penny in that picture to the right. That is from a flat headed borer and the larve of that insect feed on the inside of the tree. But that hole is so tiny. How is a person ever supposed to see holes like these? Are you supposed to get your microscope out and examine the entire tree? Well the answer is no if you understand what kind of pests are in your area that kill the trees you have currently. Unfortunatley the spread of insects is always changing and nearly impossible to track. So do you need to just make sure all insects cant harm your tree? You could make your tree insect proof by using every nonselective treatment on the market. Or better yet just use a complete blanket treatment to treat any problem
The image of the ever popular Bayer Product to the right is a blanket 3 in 1 solution to your problem. It is supposed to treat insects, diseases and mites. You just measure and pour it around the base of your tree that you want to protect and magically the tree is safe for the year. Or is it?
Now here come the big problem that costs you and everything around you more in the end. Since many of the pests you are trying to control hide in places you cannot see them you might be inclined to just treat everything with this wonderful 3 in 1 chemical. But you have no clue what you are treating for or what it effects. So you have to buy a ton of this chemical because it really doesnt go that far and use it on every tree and bush because you have no clue what you need to protect them on. Since you have no clue how long they will be around you need to complete this chore every year.
While it might seem like the perfect answer to the problem of insects and diseases in your landscape you should approach chemicals like these with extreme caution. They are often the cause of killing non-target beneficials like the ones we will outline in the next section.
Now we have all seen these kinds of products. These are slow and innefective.
Its easy to just throw some pesticides at every problem you see but that is when you kill of beneficial insects that do way more good then harm. Take for instance the two pictures on the right hand side of the page. A broad spectrum insecticide may start killing off beneficial caterpillars that turn into pollinators. So seeing parts eaten off the edges of your trees may look like the end of that tree it is far from the truth.
Big holes in trees often look scary but these pests often turn out to be wood boring insects that effect just the dead wood of the tree. Or an infestation of termites might seem like a terrible pest for a tree but with a little care the tree will be on its way to perfect health again. Its the little pests or diseases that need to worry you. They often hide under leaves, bark and even underground. So the sky is now falling and all your trees are doomed. Or is it?
Unstanding the signs of certian infestations will help you understand when its time to take action. Often timed preventative action is the best course for plant health care management. When you can see a problem is going to start effecting your target trees in a short period of time and there will be little to no wasted applications. Remember that whatever chemical you are using on your tree it is a foreign solution and is not meant to be in the tree forever.
Ok so now that you understand that you should not just go randomly targeting every disease and insect on the earth here are some tips to understand that you have an insect issue.
- Random dieback in branches
- Leaves or needles discoloring or browning in small sections
- Random nesting structures (Galls)
- Sawdust on bark or near the base of the tree
- Holes in the bark. Round, oval or D-Shaped are the most common hole shapes
- Brown leaves or needles hang from the tree