Each year, invasive insects kill enough trees in the US to release 6 million tons of carbon.
While human efforts, such as deforestation, are major causes of trees’ death everywhere, we often forget about the little guys causing trouble. There are hundreds of invasive species that hurt our national forests.
The scary part is that it is not only our country’s woodlands being affected. There are also plenty of pests affecting trees in big cities, such as North County San Diego.
Below are six types of bugs affecting San Diego trees. It is essential to be aware of these critters so you can keep a sharp eye out for them.
1. Asian Citrus Psyllid
If you are the owner of a citrus plant, you will want to be aware of these tree pests. They are common carriers of the bacterium that cause HLB disease. Once a tree becomes sick from this disease, there is no way to save it.
Different trees at high-risk include tangerine, lime, lemon, kumquat, and curry leaf trees. Signs you are dealing with this type of bug include psyllid droppings, bitter and hard fruit, and fruit that remains green far too long.
2. Western Pine Bark Beetle
Protecting the trees of San Diego from these beetles is crucial. They quickly dig holes into the center of trees to lay eggs. If not treated in time, the tree will die.
Western Pine Bark Beetles typically target pine trees, mostly Coulter pines. Due to their small size and hard outer shells, they can get past the trees’ protective layers.
The eggs they lay in the trees become Bark Beetle Larvae. The larvae also bore themselves more in-depth into the tree for further development. Once they’re adults, they release pheromones that attract more beetles to the tree.
If you notice woodpeckers stopping by your tree or fading foliage, there is a chance you might be dealing with some beetles. It is essential to keep a close eye on your tree and call an arborist if you suspect any issues.
3. Wood-Boring Caterpillars
Are you noticing holes in the trunks of trees and weakened branches? There is a good chance of a wood-boring caterpillar infestation.
There are several types of caterpillars under this specific category, including carpenter worms, American plum borers, pitch moths, and Peachtree borers. They infect your tree by finding small cracks and wounds to crawl through.
If you are the owner of peach, cherry, or dogwood trees, you will want to check your trees frequently—these types of trees are highly susceptible to caterpillar infestations.
A great way to protect your tree from caterpillars is by being careful not to wound trees with gardening tools. You will also want to remove any dead branches near the tree.
These tree pests are easy to miss because they are extremely thin. They cause quite the damage on their own but become more dangerous when they transmit viruses to your tree.
You will probably need a magnifying glass to see these bugs because they look like small markings on leaves at first glance. They cause damage by sucking plant cells out of trees. Keep an eye out for damaged flowers and leaves.
5. Spider Tree Mites
Spider tree mites belong to the same family as spiders and look like small ticks. You can easily pick out the presence of these mites by looking for webbing around leaves.
Types of trees commonly affected by spider tree mites include evergreens, elms, maples, oaks, and fruit trees. These mites come in a variety of colors, such as brown, yellow, and green. Some are even translucent.
Spider mites often target trees affected by drought. Keep your trees watered! You can also protect your tree using organic insecticidal soaps.
6. Scale Insects
Over 1,000 species of scale insects exist. Most people don’t realize their trees are affected by scales because they appear as small bumps. This effect is because they have an odd shape and are immobile.
They feed off of plants by piercing into them with their mouthparts. As new crawlers feed off the plant, they grow their hard exterior and become immobile.
It is essential to catch this type of infestation before it is too late. If you notice a branch has become infected, dispose of it quickly. You can also rub them off by hand if there are not many of them.
What Do I Do If My Tree Is Infested?
If you suspect your trees suffer from some infestation, take a close look at the branches, leaves, and any fruit being produced. Different pests produce different warning signs but note anything that looks suspicious.
Next, you’ll want to grab your phone and take some pictures of infestation sites. Sharing these photos with an arborist will be helpful. If you can, try to capture one of the insects.
You’ll want to find a local arborist you can trust. Hop online to do some research and take a peek at customer reviews. It is essential to choose an arborist that has successfully helped many people in the past.
If it comes to it, it may be best to have the tree removed. Don’t do this yourself. Hire professionals to remove the tree from your yard safely.
Watch Out for These Pests Affecting San Diego Trees
It’s no secret North County San Diego is a small piece of paradise, but small pests are trying to kill the buzz. Keep an eye out for them in San Diego trees.
These pests include caterpillars, tree mites, thrips, and beetles. You’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for discolored leaves, dead branches, and damaged flowers. If you suspect an infestation, take a careful look at the tree and contact an arborist.
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