Foresters, arborists and tree experts have one fundamental rule when it comes to diagnosing the health of a tree: Look up. An arborist’s eye should be drawn to the canopy first and foremost, as that is where most tree diseases can be found. The bark, branches and leaves are all secondary when trying to diagnose a tree’s overall health.

Arbovirus (or arboviruses) are viruses that spread primarily through the bites of insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. While not all insects can transmit them directly from one tree to another, there are some species that act as vectors for these arboviruses. With so much emphasis on the word virus in this article, you may wonder if there is something inherently sinister about an arbovirus. In reality, they’re fairly common in trees and other plants in almost every ecosystem across the globe. However, whether or not an outbreak becomes a pandemic is determined by its severity and how many individuals it affects simultaneously.

How to Check Your Trees for Pests

Trees can provide beauty, shade and privacy for your property, but they can rely on your help to keep them healthy.

All trees can be vulnerable to disease and pests that can cause illness and even death. Like any illness, catching tree pest infestation early allows for the best chance of treatment and restoration to health. Knowing how to check your trees for pests is crucial to maintaining their health.

Trees have two main pest enemies: insects and disease. Diverse types of trees and regions are prone to various types of insects and diseases that can impact tree health. Both insect infestation and disease can look similar but knowing what is impacting your tree’s health is vital to finding the right treatment solution. Here are some common signs of pest infestation and what you can do to help minimize damage to your tree’s health.

Signs of Pest Infestations

There are usually tell-tale signs that your trees are harboring pests or disease. By knowing what to look for, you can quickly address the issue and often save your tree from irreversible damage. Some signs that should alert you to a pest problem include:

  • 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

Changes in the leaves, needles, branches and trunk of your tree can be signs of disease or pests. Take a closer look for any insects that are prevalent on the tree. You may be able to identify the culprit or catch one of the insects to bring to an arborist. If you see any signs, take a sample or picture of a discolored leaf or needle, or try to capture the pest. These can be helpful to identify the problem and find a treatment solution.

Seasonal Tree Pests

Most insects and diseases that affect trees begin in the summer. Late summer is notorious for early signs of disease and pests. It is a good idea to take time every week during the summer to inspect your trees. Look for any changes in their bark, leaves, needles or branches. Tree stress can mimic pest infestation and it can be just as detrimental to the health. When you notice signs of poor health in your trees, it is best to have a tree professional inspect your trees to determine the cause and recommend a treatment solution.

Pine Beetle Infestations

In Colorado, mountain pine beetles are detrimental to the beautiful pine trees in our area. Once an infestation occurs, a tree will most likely need to be removed. The best hope for protecting pine trees from an infestation of pine beetles is pre-treatment. Insecticide can be sprayed on healthy trees to prevent infestations of these deadly beetles. Signs of pine beetle infestation include:

  • Rust colored needles
  • Loss of needles
  • Releasing of pitch

When these signs occur, your pine tree may already be infested with pine beetles and may need to be removed. The beetles eat away at the tree under the bark, killing the tree and making it dangerous. Sick trees can pose a fall risk during storms and can infect other neighboring trees. However, you can protect your other pines from infestation with treatment. Front Range Arborists, Inc. offers professional treatment for pine beetles which can help prevent the destruction of ponderosa, limber, and lodgepole pines.

Preventive Treatments for Tree Pests

The mountain pine beetle is not the only tree pest that can be prevented with treatment. To keep your trees healthy, the best option is pre-treating them to prevent disease and pest infestation. Waiting until a tree is infested to begin treatment can be too late, as is the case with the pine beetle. Not only are tree infestations expensive to treat, but they also are not always effective. It is possible to lose several trees to one infestation that could have been prevented with the right treatment.

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