Summer is well underway, and all the critters and bugs have come out to play! This means we need to keep a close eye on our leafy friends in order to protect them from an onslaught of disease or pests. When it comes to maintaining a healthy tree, we must start with the fundamentals of watering, pruning and fertilizing to keep them top notch. But healthy trees can still fall victim to infestation if we don’t stay on top of pest control! There are a variety of pests and diseases that flare up over the warmer months, but here are a few to watch for this summer!
Aphids often come in large numbers, and the female aphid has the troublesome ability to reproduce in the summer without requiring a mate. These tiny green insects feed entirely on the sap of a plant. They prefer new growth, so check for the little pests under leaves and new shoots. A telltale sign your tree might be suffering an aphid infestation is curling leaves, red or yellow discolouration, and a shiny appearance to the tree. Aphids excrete “honeydew”, which is essentially the tree’s sap stripped of all nutrients that causes a sheen on the affected plant. The best way to remove aphids is with a direct, steady stream of water right onto the tree. Ladybugs feed almost entirely on aphids and releasing ladybugs to help with your aphid problem is not just an adorable idea, but an effective one too!
Yellow-Headed Spruce Sawfly
Our coniferous friends also need our help to fight off pests this summer! Yellow-headed spruce sawflies attack young spruce trees, usually ones that grow on their own or just on the edge of a grouping of spruce. The larva look like little yellow caterpillars and they chew through tree needles until nothing is left but naked twigs and a few browned needles. Watch the boughs of your tree that are closest to the ground, as this is where an infestation usually first occurs. If left untreated, an affected tree may only last for three years before the infestation becomes a death sentence. Just like aphids however, a strong, steady blast of water to the affected area helps tremendously as well as removing the sawflies by hand.
Bronze Leaf Disease
Bronze leaf disease is a fungus that attacks mainly poplar, aspen and other related species. This fungus causes the leaves of these trees to turn a tarnished reddish-brown and works from the outside of the leaf down to the stem. It can affect just a few leaves or an entire branch and the symptoms usually show up later in the summer. It’s a good idea to start pruning and taking extra care of your poplar and aspen trees right now to help them ward off this disease. If you do prune away infected areas, make sure to cut 20 cm to 30 cm past the infection, which may end up being to the trunk itself. Be sure to sanitize your tools after each cut!
While we’re outside enjoying the sunshine, remember that the trees in our backyards, lining our city streets and populating our parks are so important to the wellbeing of our planet and to us. Keeping our trees healthy means keeping us and other wildlife healthy and here at One Man and a Ladybug we are committed to just that! If you need help assessing a situation in regards to tree pests or diseases, give us a call at 403-262-1666! Stick up for our trees by sticking it to the creepy crawlers!