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  • Writer's pictureRussell Fey

Florida Pests That Can Harm Your Trees

Aerial view of trees

Healthy trees add beauty and protection to your home and landscape. They are an integral part of creating beauty near and around your home. In fact, the presence of healthy trees on your property can increase property value by as much as thirty percent during resale.

Implementing solid tree care and maintenance strategies will ensure that you protect your trees' health, establish healthy growth patterns, and contribute to a more beautiful look and feel of your home.

Pests That Can Harm Your Trees

Florida is home to nearly 380 different species of insects. Many of these are harmless; they search for food and shelter in local grass and shrubs. Others target other insects and bugs that might damage our homes and gardens.

Unfortunately, blistering heat and excessive rain aren't the only things that threaten the health of your Florida trees. Several pests native to our sunshine state have the potential to wreak havoc and cause lasting damage to your landscape. Knowing how to manage these potential infestations will be a key part of your maintenance plan. Watch out for these Florida-native critters:

  • Dogwood Borer--The dogwood borer resembles a wasp with black and yellow markings on its abdomen. This moth does much more than hover over your picnic food, however. A borer will lay its eggs in your tree bark, when the eggs hatch, larvae burrow into wounds and crevices in the tree and into the living wood. If they are left unchecked, these destructive pests will compromise a tree's structural integrity and affect new growth. Extreme cases of borer infestation will permanently scar a tree and cause it to die within a year or two.

  • Asian Citrus Psyllid--The Asian Citrus Psyllid is easily recognizable by its light brown body and black head. It secretes a waxy, white substance through its shell that causes a dull and dusty appearance. The psyllid will lay eggs on plant tissue, which on a tree translates to shoots of young leaves or new fruit. When the eggs hatch, they feed on these tender tissues. These dangerous pests carry bacteria that causes a condition called "citrus greening." The disease infects the sap of trees, preventing nutrients from traveling through the tree's system as intended. Over time, the leaves wither and die, and any fruit that the tree may have yielded is dropped prematurely. While symptoms of psyllid infestation can take years to appear, once an infection has set in, it becomes a death sentence for the tree, as researchers have not yet found a way to stop the spread.

  • Pine Bark Beetles--A pine bark beetle has a cylinder-shaped body with either brown or black coloring. Despite a small size, pine bark beetles can do significant damage when they cluster in large groups. Adult females target weakened trees and emit pheromones that attract others in large groups. Thousands of beetles gather together and colonize these trees. As they begin to tunnel into bark, they lay their eggs, which quickly hatch and repeat the cycle of burrowing and feasting on bark, leaves, and fruit. Once a tree has become girdled, or stripped of its bark, making it particularly susceptible to fungi overgrowth and other issues. If a population is not quickly brought under control, it can result in the death of the tree.

  • Tent Caterpillars--A forest tent caterpillar moth is just over 2 inches in length, with a color ranging from dark brown to gray. They are easily identifiable due to the presence of a white spot on their abdominal segment and soft furry bristles that cover its body. These caterpillars weave a silky covering as they molt, and they use this silk to wrap securely around tree branches. As adults burrow into tree tissues and lay eggs, the larvae eventually overrun both leaves and fruit, giving the tree little chance to thrive. While a tent caterpillar might not kill its host tree, the defoliation process leaves a tree distressed, vulnerable, and prone to other diseases.

Protecting your trees from pests

Measures can be taken to care for your trees that not only maintain their health, but it can also prevent infestations from taking hold of your landscape. The use of environmentally safe insecticides, tree trimming, mulch, and fertilization can all be used to maintain the health of your trees. Our professional arborists at Fey and Sons will keep your trees vibrant, healthy, and beautiful with our varied services and treatments designed to make the most of your landscape. Don't wait till you see a problem; contact us today to see how we can provide ongoing service that maintains your trees and adds value to your property. Visit for more information.

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