Tree disease & insect MANAGEMENT

Trees, as with all products of nature, are affected by external forces like diseases and pests. Left unchecked, insects and tree diseases can transform your beautiful, robust tree into a liability.

A visit from an arborist can not only identify potential issues early and before they become more widespread. After diagnosing the problem, Arbor Medic Tree & Lawn Care can recommend and provide treatment or management solutions to restore your plants to their former health.

Common Tree Diseases

Unfortunately, while there are common tree diseases specific to Montana that can be prevented by homeowners on their own, sometimes a new insect or disease enters into the Gallatin Valley, requiring examination by a certified arborist.

A great majority of the trees in the Bozeman area are ash trees, leaving them vulnerable to multiple diseases, such as:

  • Anthracnose – A disease that presents as defoliation, twig death, and shoot dieback, but the signs of anthracnose can be easily confused or mistaken for frost damage, as brown areas on leaves and cankers on the trunk and major branches along with browning along the veins on the leaves.
  • Ash Yellows – Mostly affecting white and green ash trees, Ash Yellows causes a general loss of fullness and vigor in the tree over the course of several years. Early signs of Ash Yellows include early yellowing and fall color, loss of leaves, and cankers on the trunk and branches.
  • Verticullium Wilt – An infection that produces cankers and dieback.

How to Identify Potential Diseases

Caused primarily by microorganisms or environmental stresses, it’s often difficult to spot exactly what’s wrong with a tree or shrub without diagnostic laboratory equipment. Thankfully, there are telltale signs that a plant will exhibit when it’s under duress. These include:

  • Color changes in the crown
  • Galls, swelling, or knots on large branches and trunk
  • Leaf or stem distortion
  • Stimulated, sudden growth
  • Abrupt reduction in growth
  • Loss of leaves or stems
  • Blight and dieback
  • Wilting or collapsing branches
  • Spots, lesions, or cankers
  • Rotting and decay

These signs should be apparent to a property owner and any combination of them warrants a visit from a licensed arborist to ensure the plant receives the proper care and treatment in response to a disease or infestation.

Common Insects

There are countless pests that do damage to trees and plants, but these are some of the most common troublemakers for ash trees in Bozeman, MT and the greater Gallatin Valley region:

Emerald Ash Borer – One of the most severe pests in North America, this invasive beetle bores through wood, destroying a tree’s capacity to deliver nutrients to other parts of the tree. It’s killed millions of ash trees in the United States and arborists always look for signs of EAB when examining ash trees.

Aphids – Soft-bodied insects that cause new leaves to curl and yellow, reproducing quickly and weakening trees by extracting juices and spreading viruses.

Spider Mites – Spider mites cause problems in the dead of summer, sucking sap from needles or leaves on junipers, arborvitae, spruce, and potentilla plants. Look for graying or pale needles and small webbing.

Spruce Budworm – A caterpillar that will eat new spruce needles, spruce budworms are easily confused with white pine weevils, which requires a different treatment method to prevent damage. These were recently discovered on Douglas fir trees in our national parks and sometimes spread to local and rural plants.

Tent Caterpillars – These are extremely harmful to the leaves of trees and should be removed from the plant while the insects are still contained.

Other pests and mites include aspen borers, bronze birch borers, leaf miners, and windblown poplar budgall mites. To effectively combat the problems caused by insects and mites in your trees and to prevent their continued presence in your landscaping, a visit from a professional arborist is necessary.

How to Spot Signs of an Insect or Pest Infestation

Beside visually witnessing insects on the surface of your tree bark or leaves, it can be difficult to distinguish between common damage due to traveling insects from widespread infestation by pests – let alone determining which insect may have impacted the health of your tree. The only way to know for sure is to request a visit from a certified arborist, but here are a few ways to tell what type of insect may have called your precious plants home in recent months.

Boring Insects

Destructive and difficult to remove, boring insects like Bark Beetles and Emerald Ash Borers leave extensive damage on ornamental trees and shrubs that may not present evidence for several months – even years – after the initial infestation. Signs of these insects include

  • Exit holes on the truck or large branches
  • Sawdust-like debris
  • Abnormal loss of leaves

Chewing Insects

While chewing insects like moths, worms, and caterpillars usually display signs of damage almost immediately, with their consumption of healthy leaves and needles presenting a sudden and dramatic impact on the visual quality of your trees and shrubs. Some feeding is normal and won’t dramatically impact the health of your plants, but if you’re seeing the following signs, it’s time to call an arborist.

  • Holes in leaves
  • Skeletal-like appearance of leaf systems
  • Exceptional loss of leaves
  • Nests in tree system or visual evidence of the insects themselves

Sucking Insects

By sucking sap and nutrients from a tree, insects like mites, aphids, and flies may not present immediate evidence of an infestation due to their small, needle-like mouths that feed in small amounts. Take a closer look at your trees and look for the following signs:

  • Withering leaves or loss of needles
  • Premature leaf drop
  • External presence of sap or honeydew
  • Sooty, mold-like coating on plants

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Customer Testimonial

“The team of professionals at Arbor Medic is the main reason I am successful at managing the size property I do. With 220 acres we have open spaces, landscaped yards, a manicured entry, ponds, and creeks. The variety of expertise I get by using Arbor Medic is a major factor is our partnership. I always say, “If I grow it, Arbor Medic knows it!

They have been instrumental in diagnosing ailing shrubs and trees and then they have provided us with a detailed plan of action. They are extremely conscientious about the kind of products and application of products on this property. We are a fishing community and are therefore very sensitive about what could enter our habitats. I never worry about getting some guy with a handful of hours of training, the staff at Arbor Medic are some of the highest trained in the business.

I would not hesitate to recommend the team at Arbor Medic for any job no matter the size. Personal attention and professionalism are what every customer can expect!”

M.G. McLeod
Property Manager
Manhattan, MT