With the onset of Spring comes the reemergence of bugs, both good and bad. Just like us, the Spring brings them out for good food and good weather. As trees begin to bloom they produce the yummiest food for bugs and the days begin to get longer which always for more time to do what bugs do. The good news is that most tree bugs aren’t an issue. In fact, only 1% of insects are harmful to urban trees. We should all welcome the bugs back with applause! They pollinate our flowers, can keep pest populations under control, and we need them for a healthy ecosystem.
But what about the bad tree bugs? They can be destructive and a nuisance. For some commercial property owners, sticky sidewalks and beetle infestations are definitely the 1% to keep under control. So how do you know the difference between good tree bugs and bad tree bugs?
Let’s start with the good guys. These are the buggies that you want to keep around your commercial properties. Their presence can help reduce the need for pesticides by preying on the pests.
Lady Beetles, AKA Ladybugs, love to eat scale insects, whiteflies, mites, and aphids. They are capable of eating 5,000 aphids over their lifetime!
Lacewings are known for feeding on aphids but will also control mites and other soft-bodied insects such as caterpillars, leafhoppers, mealybugs, and whiteflies.
Damsel bugs prey on aphids, leafhoppers, plant bugs, thrips, and small caterpillars. They cause no damage to plants and lay their eggs on meadow grasses.
Ground Beetles eat common pests like caterpillars, ants, and even other beetles. These beetles don’t fly but will climb trees when looking for prey.
Now for the bad boys. These are the bugs that we aim to control and the time to treat is early in the season before the Spring flush.
Aphids are one of the most common nuisance pests on our urban trees. They don’t kill the tree, but repeated infestations can cause sooty mold and canopy dieback.
Tussock Moths are more of a nuisance than a threat and are not considered a serious pest. However, when their populations are high, these leaf-eating caterpillars can literally rain down on innocent bystanders.
These are the usual suspects who drip all the sticky stuff on your sidewalks!
Bronze Birch Borer is a wood-boring beetle that is a serious pest for Birch trees, frequently killing them. Symptoms show as dieback in the crown and increase in severity as the infestation continues. One injection application of treatment can provide 2 years of residual control.
Southern Pine Bark Beetle
The usual method of detecting this insect is by observing masses of pitch (pitch tubes) on the bark of dying pine trees. Adult beetles are tiny, being 1/16 to 3/16 inch long, dark brown to black cylindrical beetles. Diagnosis of dead trees is made by the appearance of the pattern of galleries that appears S-shaped underneath the bark and outside of the heartwood (in the phloem-cambium layer).
The key to prevention is early detection of stressed pine trees. Preventative insecticide injections can be beneficial in reducing the mortality rate where beetle infestations have been identified in the area.
The best way to reduce pest issues is to maintain a healthy commercial landscape:
• Healthy landscapes start with healthy soil and plant diversity.
• Healthy soils encourage healthy tree growth, which in turn can naturally fend off pests and disease.
• A diversity of tree species within a commercial landscape encourages beneficial insects, which can help decrease pest issues.
If treatment to control is the best option, the time for preventative treatment for any spring pest is NOW, before the pests appear. If you wait for them to appear, it may be harder and more expensive to control. The team at LMC is here to help. Give us a call today with any tree bug concerns.