Monthly Archives: January 2016

Oak Decline

Over the past few weeks we have been discussing tree diseases and continue with this topic today in the examination of Oak Decline in the Northeast.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Forest Service periodic occurrences of decline and death of oaks over widespread areas have been recorded since 1900. These outbreaks, variously named oak decline, oak dieback, or oak mortality, are caused by a complex interaction of environmental stresses and pests and given the name oak decline.

Outbreaks caused by pests and environmental factors greatly impact red, scarlet, pin and black oaks throughout our New England region.  Other important tree species that have suffered serious declines include ash, birch, beech, and maple.(insert image) Environmental factors could include: drought, waterlogging, or frost. Pests include defoliators or tree sucking types.  The two major pests associated with oak decline are Armillaria mellea (Vahl: Fr.), a root disease commonly called armillaria root rot, and Agrilus bilineatus (Weber), the twolined chestnut borer. The progression is usually slow over the first few years and then a fairly rapid decline after that.

Symptoms:  Symptoms of the decline include:

  • production of chlorotic, dwarfed, and sparse foliage
  • development of sprouts on main branches and stem
  • premature autumn leaf color and leaf dropfigure1

Treatment: Treatment will depend upon the cause; whether it is an environmental stress that needs to be counteracted or pests which will need chemical or cultural treatment by a professional pest control company such as Pro-Tech.  Please contact us if you suspect your trees are affected by any type of disease and we can help you identify the cause and suggest a treatment.


Tree Disease Risks: Part II

Winter is a great time to inspect your property for damage that may be evident on your property including the trees that add life and color to your precious landscape.  Last week we discussed several common diseases and continue to do so this week.  Here further educational details about pests and diseases that may impact your yard.

  • Cottony Scale insects are closely related to aphids and affect Holly, Euonymus, Yews, and a variety of other trees and shrubs. Cottony scale occurs when scale insects feed by tapping into the plant stem or leaf and withdrawing plant sap. Plants infested with scale will show signs of thinning, yellowing foliage, and even branch dieback. In severe cases, cottony scale can kill a plant or tree.
  • Lace Bugs are small, winged-insects that are common on New England’s most popular trees and shrubs, such as the rhododendron, azalea, Hawthorne, and many other broadleaf and deciduous trees. The Lace Bug gets its name because its entire body is covered in veins, thus resembling the appearance of lace. Damage caused by Lace Bugs begins to appear in yellow spots on the upper leaf surfaces of infected plants. This is caused by the Lace Bug feeding on the underside of the leaf, using its piercing and sucking mouths to damage the leaves. Lace Bug treatment requires professional pest management tools.  Contact Pro-Tech to discuss your tree needs.
  • The Fall Webworm (hyphantria cunea) is a pest that is found throughout New England, and is common on a variety of shade trees and shrubs.  The Fall Webworm appears on our deciduous trees in the late summer and is very similar to the Eastern Tent Caterpillar, with the only difference being how the insect builds its nests. Fall Webworm nests can be found at the end of branches, and consists of a white hair-like mass that houses up-to a thousand eggs.

Tree Disease Risks: Part I

New England is a tree-friendly climate that ensures the region’s forests will endure for many, many years. Unfortunately, a wide array of pests and diseases also means that the region’s 33 million acres of trees will continue to be at risk for damage or destruction.  Here is a glossary of common tree diseases for homeowners to review for reference for the organic growth on their property.  Please return next week as we continue to discuss more insect and diseases that can and do impact our foliage in our region.

  •  Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is threatening one of our most valuable native trees – the Eastern Hemlock. This insect was introduced to the United States from Asia in Massachusetts in 1988.  HWA is easily recognized by the presence of white cottony egg masses on young Hemlock twigs. Damage is caused when these eggs hatch and begin to feed by sucking the sap from the twigs, effectively killing them. As of today this insect has killed over 500 Hemlocks in the area of Boston’s Arnold Arboretum.
  •  Winter moths are invasive pests, originating from Europe and Western Asia around 1930. Winter moths rip and shred the leaves off of many types of trees including trees such as: cherries, crabapples, dogwoods, maples, and oaks. Winter moth, and their larvae, are most common in eastern New England, primarily Boston’s North and South Shores.
  •  Leaf Spot is a disease that affects trees and shrubs, and is extremely common across New England. Leaf Spot can be caused by insects, pollutants, and bacteria, but is most commonly a pathogenic fungus that can be identified by brown or black spots, or blotches, that are left on leaves.  This fungus can continue to grow to a point where it kills the leaves and causes defoliation. Deciduous trees, such as oak, ash, maple, and hickory, are common hosts of leaf spot, while coniferous trees are less impacted.
  •  Gypsy Moth were mistakenly introduced in hopes of starting a silk production and have quickly spread throughout the North East. Gypsy Moths are most commonly found on oaks, but have been known to devastate a wide variety of trees, including, hemlock, pine, spruce, willow, birch, and poplar. Once the Gypsy Moth caterpillars infest a tree they can quickly defoliate it by consuming all the leaves. Though a tree may survive one year of defoliation, multiple years of repetitive defoliation will kill a tree.


Stay tuned for continued coverage of tree disease and pests.

Trees with Hidden Risks to Pets and Family Members

Homes that have trees on the property add character and personality. Trees that provide shade, produce flowers, bear fruit, or light up with color in the fall can be eye catching and add beauty to the surroundings.  Unfortunately, there are some risks that homeowners may not realize when purchasing a property including hidden risks to pets or disease that can easily spread throughout the yard.  Let’s examine some of the basics of trees and what you should know as a homeowners about the organic growth on your landscape.

Understand the Landscape

The first thing a new homeowners (or even one who has held the property for years) will want to do is to find out what trees are on the property.  Research the type of trees and find out potential pests that may try to harm the tree as well as potential issues that may be created for pets or people. If you are unaware of the types of growth on your property ask neighbors and “Google”  the images of your yard to find out more.

Be Aware of Risks –

Some trees and bushes are at greater risk to attract pests and could have harmful effects if ingested by a pet or young child.   Here are a few to be aware of . . . .

  • Black walnut – Dogs have recently been added to the watch list for this commonplace tree. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the danger lies in molds that grow on decomposing nuts. Dogs that eat these molds develop vomiting, diarrhea and possibly tremors and seizures. Typically, a well-fed dog leaves fallen nuts alone. But if your pooch develops a taste for walnuts or likes to play with them, rake and gather them regularly.
  • Holly – Both the spiny leaves and bright-red berries contain toxins that can harm your pets. Plants contain saponins and theobromine, the same compound that makes chocolate toxic for dogs and cats. If a pet munches this plant, it will likely develop a stomachache or diarrhea.
  • Horse chestnut – Every part of horse chestnut contains saponins, chemicals that can depress the central nervous system. Avoid letting pets play with chestnut twigs or fruit. Keep young children from putting chestnuts in their mouths.

What To Do if Poisoning Occurs

Post poison control numbers in an easily visible spot: 1-800-222-1222 for children and adults; 1-800-213-6680 for the Pet Poison Helpline (a fee may apply).


Maintaining your Hardscape this Winter: Pests, Snow and Chemicals

Landscaping and hardscaping can add such beauty and value to your property.   Once homeowners have invested in this process, it is important to properly care for hardscaping through every season and for every pest that could be compromising the area.  One of the most critical seasons to care for stone or brickwork is during the long, rough winters, especially here in the New England region.  Here are a few of our suggestions to maintain your brick or stone work this winter.

  • Be Aware of Pests – Outdoor pests tend to either die off or overwinter in other places during the colder months.  But winter is a great time to observe and inspect around your patio or walkways for signs of pests in order to treat for them in early spring.
  • Reduce Use if Salt or De-Icers– These products can have corrosive effects on brick and stone, not to mention what it will do to the organic parts of your lawn.  Reduce your reliance on corrosive de-icers such as sodium chloride or calcium chloride and gas-powered equipment.  When at all possible remove snow immediately so ice can not built up.  For minor snowfall events, maintaining hardscapes immediately by removing snow and ice will help avoid the need for deicers. When absolutely necessary use de-icers in entryways to prevent slip hazards and if you must use them, use environmentally-friendly types such as magnesium chloride or potassium chloride.
  • Be Aware of Snow Removal Equipment – Using powerful and heavy equipment to blow or plow snow could lead to damage on hardscapes.  Be aware of the height of the plow or how it could scrape against the stone/brick.  In addition avoid the sharp edges of metal snow shovels that can scratch or ding pavers or decorative concrete.
  • Cracks, Crevices, and Uneven Areas – Keep an eye out for any cracks or uneven areas that develop due to frost heaves or damage from snow equipment.  The longer the damage remains the worse it could get.  Take care of these areas as soon as possible.

Being aware of how winter ice and snow is cleaned off the hardscapes of your property can go a long way when maintaining its beautiful appearance.