As summer approaches, it’s time to take a break from our yards and focus on our gentle giants. Trees may look sturdy from a distance, but if you look closer, you will see that trees are their own little ecosystem with various types of insects living together. While most insects are harmless to trees, there are a few in New Jersey that you need to watch out for. These are pests that can severely damage your trees or even kill them.
Tent caterpillars are probably the most visible of the pests on this list. They weave large nests out of silk where the caterpillars grow protected from predators and the environment. They only come out to feed on the leaves of the host trees. Enough tent caterpillars can strip enough foliage from branches that it can stunt or even kill the limb.
To control tent caterpillars prune away the affected branches if they are within reach. Do not attempt to use fire to burn these pests as it can damage the tree.
The emerald ash borer is an invasive species that was first discovered in the United States in Michigan in 2002. Since then, it has utterly devastated the ash tree populations in America. The adults feed on the leaves of the trees and lay eggs on the bark. When the eggs hatch, the larvae bore into the bark and begin to feed on the nutrient-rich cambium layer. The feeding disrupts the tree’s ability to make sap and send nutrients up the tree. Eventually, the tree will start to defoliate and ultimately succumb. The Sourland Conservancy in Hopewell Township says that between 20 and 70 percent of the forests in the Sourland region are ash trees, and all of them are in danger of being destroyed by the emerald ash borer.
The spotted lanternfly is another invasive insect imported from Asia that feeds on the sap of trees and plants such as fruit trees, crops, softwoods, and hardwoods. Actually not a fly at all, the spotted lanternfly is a planthopper that leaps from plant to plant. Like locusts, lanternflies move in swarms that can fill the air and cover a tree from canopy to root.
Lanternflies can cause damage to plants in the adult and larvae stage. They feed by sucking sap from leaves and stems with their mouthparts. The feeding disrupts photosynthesis and causes the plant to wither and eventually die. Lanterflies excrete a waste called honeydew. Honeydew can attract wasps, ants and can host a fungus called sooty mold, which can coat trees, desks, and patio furniture in sticky, ashy residue.
Curiously, the spotted lanternfly is attracted to the native Asian tree, the tree of heaven. It is recommended to remove or thin out these high-risk trees to protect other vulnerable plants and trees in the area.
If you notice that your trees are not looking so great and might be caused by a pest, call the pros at Harvest Lawn Care. At Harvest Lawn Care, we don’t just make amazing yards with our lawn care program. We also take care of your trees. Our 6-step tree and shrub program provides all the nutrients your tree needs to stay healthy throughout the year.
We also offer trunk injections for wood, boring insects, bark sprays, and dormant oil applications.