Last month we talked about insects that damage our lawns in Texas. We are continuing with our series on destructive pests by talking about pests that damage trees. We often think of trees as big sturdy plants that don’t require a lot of work from us, but there are a number of pests out there that not only feed on your trees but spread deadly diseases that can hurt even the mightiest of oaks. Here is a list of the most common pests in Texas to help you plan ahead before too much damage is done.
Aphids are tiny, sap-sucking insects that can cause extensive damage to a wide range of trees and shrubs. Their feeding disrupts young tissues, which can stunt or weaken the tree. They excrete a waste called honeydew, which can be a host for sooty mold. You can easily wash aphids away with a blast of water or attract beneficial insects like wasps and ladybugs that feed on them.
Tree scale may look like tiny growths on your trees, but they are a unique type of insect that feeds on the sap of trees. Unless you know what you are looking for, tree scale can go completely unnoticed. Small populations can easily get out of control before you even realize your tree has a problem.
There are two types of tree scale: hard-shelled and soft scales. The one thing they both have in common is their piercing mouthparts used to extract sap from trees. Their feeding patterns disrupt the growth of the tree and can cause yellowing of leaves or worse. Soft scale insects, like aphids, secrete honeydew, which attracts bees, wasps, ants, and flies.
Leafminers refer to a number of insects in which the larval stage lives in and eats the leaf tissue of plants. After the female lays eggs in the leaves of plants, the larvae cause damage by tunneling through the leaf tissue, which can lead to leaf drop in some instances. Some types of leaf miners are:
Tent caterpillars are aggressive eaters that live in webs or “tents” on the branches of deciduous trees. They live in groups that can number in the thousands and can cause irreversible damage to trees. The young caterpillars exit the tent in search of food. While they do, they lay down, a pheromone trail that leads other caterpillars to food sources or to help them find their way back to the tent. The easiest way to get rid of them is to prune the branch and destroy the nest.
The emerald ash borer has been making its way to Texas ever since it was first discovered in the United States back in 2002. It wasn’t until 2016 that the first cases of emerald ash borer was reported in Texas. The beetle is a small but powerful pest and an enemy of ash trees. Adult beetles feed on ash leaves and deposit eggs on the bark of their hosts. When the eggs hatch, the larvae penetrate the bark and feed on water-conducting tissues inside the tree. This disrupts the way the tree produces sap and slowly kills it. A mature ash tree can succumb within 2-3 years and can destroy an entire forest of ash trees within 10.
At Gro Lawn, we have over 20 years of experience dealing with Texas trees and the pests that feed on them. If you suspect a pest infestation in your trees, don’t hesitate to call the pros at Gro Lawn. Our tree care program is designed to keep your trees healthy and strong.
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