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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Common Tree Pests And How To Handle Them

Florida Trees

Summer is coming, and it’s a great time of year to get outside and enjoy your landscape, lush greenery, and warmer temperatures. Unfortunately, with all of that beautiful sunshine and warm temperatures come hundreds of thousands of insects.

If you have trees on your property, it is likely that you will also have an insect or pest infestation. When it comes to pests, trees that are stressed after a long winter are particularly at risk and vulnerable. You’ll need to know what to look for to identify infestations and take the proper steps to reduce or eliminate these populations effectively before they do irreparable damage to your trees. Look for these common tree pests and take action to keep your trees healthy and vibrant all summer and beyond:

Gypsy moth

The gypsy moth is a notorious destroyer of foliage; they have been attacking and weakening trees since a growth spurt in the 1980s. When your trees bud and open in the spring, gypsy moths leave massive quantities of eggs on the leaves. Hatching larvae feed on the leaves, making it harder for your tree to absorb nutrients from sunlight. They are particularly hard on birch, maple, oak, and elm trees. If you see yellow, tear-shaped masses of eggs, you likely have a gypsy moth infestation.

Western tent caterpillar

A Western tent caterpillar has favorites too--they tend to go for quaking aspen, cottonwood, poplar, and fruit trees. You’ll know that they have taken up residence when you see their silken white, tent-like cocoons in mid to late spring. They live as a large colony and expand their tent as the season progresses. Look for brown, shriveled foliage and a larger tent as signs that you need to address this infestation.

Eastern tent caterpillar

Having a bit of an Eastern influence, this tent caterpillar feeds on aspen, oak, sugar maples, and other hardwood shade trees. Look for many of the same signs that they have taken up residence on your trees---large, silken tents, withering and stripped leaves, and dead overgrowth.

Douglas fir tussock moths

Not just restricted to the Douglas fir, this destructive moth can attack other coniferous trees, and they tend to do so annually until the tree has sustained significant damage. Look for signs of reddish-brown needles and large sacs of egg larvae on underlying tree growth. Be careful not to touch these masses, though, as the hair on emerging larvae can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions.

Emerald ash borer

This commonly known pest kills millions of ash trees every year. The ash borer is very difficult to spot with the naked eye, but trees that are infected will exhibit an S-shaped feeding gallery packed with frass and sawdust. You will also begin to see holes in tree bark as the adults emerge. Trees that begin to die from the canopy down, and those that have foliage that is turning yellow are likely infested with the ash borer. Look for these signs and quickly prevent this pest from spreading to other trees on your property.

Bark beetles

Bark beetles are a little bit less discriminating when it comes to feeding--they can attack hardwood and conifer trees, causing extensive damage. These beetles transmit disease as they go from tree to tree, spreading harmful spores. If you see trees with brown or white pitch tubes or areas of sap-like substance on the outside of the bark, you most likely have a bark beetle problem.


Aphids are sap-sucking insects; they drain the leaves and stems of your tree, leaving a sticky substance behind that prevents the tree from performing the essential function of photosynthesis. If your overgrowth of aphids is too large, it can inhibit the growth of new branches and leaves, causing a slow death to your foliage.

Scale insects

These pesky critters can feed on the inner structures of bark, causing branch dieback and eventual tree death. Scale insects leave behind a sooty deposit that makes it nearly impossible for trees to distribute nutrients throughout the trunk and leaves efficiently. If you see evidence of scale insect infestation with yellowing leaves and premature leaf drop, you might want to call your tree professional to address the issue and protect your trees.

See a pest problem? Call us today!

During this period of growth and development, you must care for your trees, keeping them safe from infestation. Are you noticing a pest problem? Fey and Sons, LLC, are trained professionals committed to keeping your trees vibrant, healthy, and beautiful. We specialize in all aspects of tree care, from pruning and trimming to restorative care and removal, and we will address any need and help to beautify your trees and your property once more. Contact us today for more information on how our trained arborists can help protect and restore your trees. Visit for more information.

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