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Carpenter Costin Blog

The Danger of the Asian Longhorned Beetle

First discovered in Brooklyn, New York in 1996, the Asian Longhorned Beetle has caused destruction in six states and threatens to kill ornamental trees across the eastern half of the country. Homeowners in three key states should be vigilant for these destructive and invasive wood-boring pests as they can cause tree death to many beloved hardwoods in our region. 

the danger of the Asian Longhorned Beetle

What Are Asian Longhorned Beetles? 

While not native to the United States, the Asian Longhorned beetle (ALB) feeds on hardwoods by boring into the bark and eventually destroying the tree they inhabit. The ALB is considered an invasive and destructive species and has spread from New York initially to five other states where quarantines were enacted to reduce the spread. Those states include: Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio, and South Carolina. 

The trees that are most at risk are Ash, Birch, Elm, Poplar, Sycamore, and Willow trees. These trees are currently at highest risk in Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina. 

Identification of these pests depends upon the stage they are in on their life cycle. The adult ALB are very unique looking in that they have black shiny bodies (about an inch to an inch and a half long) with distinctive white band markings and very long antenna. 

It’s during the larvae stage that the ALB does the most damage however. The larvae bore under the bark of the tree and feed on the tree much like the Emerald Ash Borer. The loss of nutrients can be deadly to the tree and cause irreversible damage. After boring to the core of the tree and pupating under the bark, the adult ALb then tunnels its way out causing a pencil-sized hole in the tree. 

As you can imagine both the larva stage and adult tunneling (boring) can put major stress on the trees and cause a depletion of much needed nutrients. 

Signs of ALB infestation

Signs & Symptoms Your Trees Are Infested with ALB

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, signs of ALB infestation “start to show about 3 to 4 years after infestation, with tree death occurring in 10 to 15 years depending on the tree’s overall health and site conditions.” 

Here are some signs that homeowners in these states mentioned above should take special care to be vigilant for as they inspect their trees regularly. 


  • Sightings of adult ALBs, larvae, pupa, or eggs on your hardwood trees.
  • Chewed round depressions in the bark. 
  • Frass or sawdust like droppings at the base of the tree. 
  • Pencil-sized exit holes caused by adults exiting the tree. 
  • Yellowed or drooping leaves. 

What You Can Do To Stop the Spread of ALB

In order to stop the spread of these invasive pests, homeowners should have the trees on their property inspected annually by a certified arborist, especially if you have noticed any of the signs listed above. Learn about the quarantines that currently exist in your area. 

In addition to learning about these destructive pests, homeowners should avoid moving firewood that could have the egg, pupa, larva, or even the adult ALB still hidden inside the bark.

If you should spot any of the signs of this species on your property, please report it immediately by calling 1-866-702-9938 or report online. 

Recognizing Lace Bug Damage

Ever take a walk around your yard and marvel at the beauty of nature? The trees, leaves, flowers, and wildlife all work together in a complex ecosystem. Unfortunately, sometimes that ecosystem requires that critters feed off plants or bushes native to our area in order to survive. Lace Bugs are one such critter that could be feeding off your azaleas, rhododendrons, broadleaf evergreens or a range of deciduous trees. 


recognizing Lace Bug damage


Would you be able to recognize the damage on your plants in your yard and know what steps to take to treat your plantings? Carpenter Costin has years of experience identifying insects that could be damaging your plantings. 

Today, we are examining the Lace Bug, including what they are, how they got their unique name, the type of damage they can inflict, and how homeowners should proceed should they find that this bug is infesting their yard. 

What Are Lace Bugs & How Did They Get Their Name? 

Lace Bugs are fairly tiny insects (about ⅛ - ⅓ of an inch long at the adult phase). They have light colored bodies with wings that emerge from the thorax. 

The uncommon look of the Lace Bug will help you understand the origin of its name. The entire outer body of the Lace Bug is covered in cells or veins that resemble lace. The net-like pattern of this “lace” looks very delicate but can cause some damage to the leaves of your plantings, most specially azaleas and rhododendrons in our region. 

first signs of Lace Bug Damage

What Kind of Damage Can They Do? 

Most Lace Bug damage becomes clearly noticeable on the leaves of plantings by mid-to-late summer. The damage that most homeowners first notice includes white or yellow mottled spots

on the leaves caused by the adult or nymph Lace Bug inserting its needle-like mouthparts into it to feed. 

As a Lace Bug sucks the nutrients out of the leaves of the planting, it causes damage due to a loss of nutrients and damage to the underside of the leaf due to the piercing of the surface. If the feeding is heavy enough, it can lead to brown or yellow spots to appear and possibly early leaf drop. 

Over the course of a few years of Lace Bug damage, a planting can experience reduced plant growth or even progress to a point of being beyond rescue. 

How To Treat For Lace Bugs

When identified early, Lace Bugs can be controlled through systemic insecticide. We also recommend preventative measures for plantings that commonly become infested. 

  • Begin plant inspections in early spring to catch an infestation early. Be sure to check under the leaves for these small bugs. 
  • Use preventative treatments that can keep the bugs at bay on plantings that commonly become infested. 
  • Use a high power washer that can wash away the nymphs. Since nymphs do not have wings they will be unable to return to the planting to continue to feed and grow. 
  • Consider natural predators of LaceBugs that could keep them under control in your yard such as mites, spiders, and lady beetles. 

If you have a Lace Bug issue in your yard, request a free consultation and our team can inspect and come up with a proper and comprehensive course of treatment right for your property. 

Keep the Ticks & Mosquitoes Out of Your Backyard in 2021

The summer is finally here and that means it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy the long, sun-filled  days and beautiful summer weather. Unfortunately, living in Massachusetts also means that along with the ocean breezes and fantastic weather comes some pest issues that may be lurking in your own backyard. 

Between the prevalence of Black-legged ticks and those nuisance mosquitoes, enjoying a backyard BBQ with family or evening under the stars with friends can become a worrisome ordeal. Luckily, there are some solutions to these issues that can give homeowners control again over their own yard.

Let’s take a closer look at the hazards that ticks and mosquitoes can pose to you and your family as well as some simple ways to make your backyard safer this pest season. 

tick mite under microscope

The Dangers of Ticks & Mosquitoes 

Both ticks and mosquitoes can carry diseases that are harmful (and sometimes fatal) to humans. Avoiding tick-borne and mosquito-borne diseases is the best prevention against contracting these diseases. 

Tick-borne Diseases 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “The most common tick-borne diseases in Massachusetts are Lyme Disease, Babesiosis, and Anaplasmosis. Other diseases that are more rare, but still occur, are Tularemia, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Borrelia miyamotoi, and Powassan virus.” 

Mosquito-borne Diseases 

Diseases that can be spread by the bite of a mosquito (or mosquito-borne diseases) include: the Zika Virus, West Nile Virus, Chikungunya Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Dengue, and Malaria. Thankfully, in New England we mostly need to focus on two diseases: West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE or “Triple E”), according to 

backyard party

Prevention Techniques 

Preventing bites from ticks and mosquitoes is the best way to prevent vector borne diseases. Here are a few steps that you can take to protect your friends and family even when just stepping into your backyard. 


  • Wear insect repellent with the ingredient DEET. 
  • Treat your clothing with 0.5% permethrin, which will deter bites from both ticks and mosquitoes. 
  • Wear light clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. 
  • Avoid heading outdoors during peak times for mosquitoes including dawn and dusk. 
  • Cut back trees and bushes from your backyard. 
  • Remove any standing water that could become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. 
  • Keep your lawn trimmed short. 
  • Shower soon after being outdoors to remove any ticks that have not yet embedded themselves. 
  • Check your children and partner’s skin for ticks. They especially like hidden areas such as armpits, hairlines, groin, and behind the knees. 

How Carpenter Costin Can Help

Taking personal precautions to keep the ticks and mosquitoes at bay is one thing, but Carpenter Costin can also help remove the problem from your backyard with our tick and mosquito treatment options. Talk to our specialists about what type of treatment and timing of treatments for your property would be best for your family. Reduce the worry this summer season about what disease you may be exposed to in your own backyard with our tick and mosquito treatments. 

Invasive Beetle Alert: Emerald Ash Borer

The small invasive beetle known as the Emerald Ash Borer is devastating Ash tree species across Middlesex, Essex and 9 other Massachusetts counties this spring. Homeowners should be aware of the potential pest and know their options when it comes to treatment or ways to help prevent the spread of this beetle. 


What Is the Emerald Ash Borer? 

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is a small, metallic green beetle that was initially identified in the United States in the area surrounding Detroit, Michigan in the summer of 2002. Since that time it has spread violently across the nation and can be found in 35 states as well as five provinces in Canada. 

Since its discovery, the EAB has killed hundreds and millions of Ash trees across the country. In response, the USDA enforced a quarantine on Ash tree firewood and mulch. The goal of this quarantine (which has been lifted in Massachusetts as of January 2021,) is to slow the spread of this pest and give the Ash trees a fighting chance. 

What’s the Danger of the Emerald Ash Borer? 

How dangerous can a small beetle be, you ask? 

Extremely dangerous, according to the Massachuestts state site dedicated to the identification, prevention, and treatment of the EAB. 

In the course of just a few years (between 3-5 years) an Ash tree can go from showing small signs of an infestation in the form of dieback on the upper canopy of leaves to full mortality with the disruption of the tree’s nutrient movement. 

Invasive species experts explain that the adult beetles do little damage to the Ash foliage, that the real problem occurs during the larvae or immature stage of development. The larvae feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. (Source: US Dept of Agriculture

emerald-ash-borer-1447682_1920-jpgSigns of Damage 

The Emerald Ash Borer is hard to spot with an untrained eye. Sadly, most infestations are several years old by the time they are noticed by homeowners. At that point the life of the tree is in jeopardy. 

However, most entomologists know the signs to be aware of to treat and stop the spread of this highly invasive pest. These include: 


  • Defoliation in the upper canopy
  • Branch death in the upper canopy
  • Growth of new branches where they can get nutrients such as at the base of the tree (epicormic sprouting) 
  • Signs of woodpecker damage since woodpeckers seek out EAB larvae
  • D-shaped exit holes in the bark may indicate adult EAB 
  • S-shaped galleries in the areas beneath the bark (indicates larvae feeding) 
  • Vertically split bark which can indicate galleries of larvae underneath

What Can Be Done About EAB? 

Homeowners should have regular inspections of the trees in their yard. Most Emerald Ash Borers will not be recognizable without keeping a close eye on the growth of the problem. Often if the problem has gone on too long the tree may be unsalvageable.

Professional arborists are able to use spray and injectable treatments to keep your trees safe but need to do so before the infestation has gotten too far. Once detected, often the goal is to stop the spread to other trees in the area. 

Environmental methods such as using natural enemies of the EAB could help. For instance, woodpeckers and wasps could help along with professional treatments by trained arborists. 

The state of Massachusetts in partnership with the Forest Health Program has implemented a trapping program to continue emerald ash borer detections in the state. The trapping program allows state foresters to find new infestations, map the progression and spread of known populations, and determine sites suitable for biocontrol releases.

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6 Common Signs of Tree Damage

The smell of spring is in the air. The crocuses are poking their heads out of the soil. Daffodils are making an appearance in long dormant flower beds. And trees are showing their buds with the promise of blooming any day now. The signs of spring are all around us!

Unfortunately, along with these hopeful signs come some signs of tree damage suffered through the winter or due to disease or pests. Are your trees sending you a sign they are damaged? 

All is not lost if your tree is showing some signs that it is sick. Our arborists can evaluate your trees and determine if the tree can be saved through pruning, treatment, cabling or bracing. Read on to find out what signs you should be looking for this spring as you start to get outside to enjoy this beautiful weather.  

#1 Dead Branches 

As you are evaluating the trees on your property, you may find that some of them have branches that appear to be dead wood. While many trees have dead branches, especially in the spring, it is important to take care of these since wind storms could cause them to fall and damage homes or property. 

Since fewer branches means less nutrients needed, a tree that is shedding its branches is a survival method. Have an arborist examine your trees that are showing signs of dead branches to evaluate its health and what steps can be taken to maintain healthy growth. 

#2 A Discernible Lean to One Side 

Some trees naturally grow at an angle due to the surrounding environment. Sadly, some trees develop a tilt due to weakness or structural issues with the roots. If you notice a tree in your yard that has a questionable tilt, contact our team to evaluate the health of the tree and determine if it needs removal or some TLC. 

#3 Visible Signs of Pests 

As you evaluate your property this spring, pay close attention to trees that may have an overabundance of beetles or ants that are on the bark or leaves. Pests tend to flock to dead, weakened, or dying wood to set up their colonies or nests. While every tree is bound to have some ants or beetles crawling around, look for damage caused by these pests that could indicate the health of the tree is struggling. 

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#4 Visible Signs of Fungal Growth 

Growth of fungus can look a little different on every tree. Look for discoloration on the leaves, wilting, or scabs on the bark. There could also be mushrooms growing at the base of the tree or even on the tree itself. 

#5 Exposed Roots & Root Damage

Determining root damage is not always an easy task as roots are not often visible. If your tree has a shallow or partially exposed root system, it is possible that it can suffer damage from every day actions such as mowing the grass, lawn care, and even foot traffic. Common signs of root damage include: dead branches, poor yearly growth, and wilting leaves during the growing season. 

#6 Bark Issues 

When a tree is diseased or dying it can show signs that it is vulnerable. Loose bark, missing bark, cracks in the bark, and cankers all signal a problem within the tree. Each of these conditions can weaken a tree and cause a potentially dangerous situation during the next wind storm. 

Controlling and Preventing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestation

Ensure your Hemlocks are safe from this invasive pest 

Hemlocks are wonderful trees to have in your landscape, and their density makes them a great choice for planting in privacy screens. However, without proper care, Hemlocks are very susceptible to Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, which can seriously damage and eventually kill your Hemlocks.

What is Hemlock Woolly Adelgid?


Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) are tiny, aphid-like insects that are barely visible. It is atypical of most other insect species as it is in a dormant stage for much of the growing season and starts to be active mid-October through the winter.

When is Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Active?

As temperatures begin to cool in the fall, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid leaves its summer dormancy to feast on the Eastern Hemlocks. Depending on the temperature, this usually occurs between late September and October.

By mid-February HWA starts producing new egg masses. This is when most people become aware of this pest because of the white, cottony egg masses that are lined up at the base of the needles of their Hemlocks. Then by mid-July, the immature insects settle on the stems, at the base of the needles, and become dormant, neither feeding nor developing. Preventative or controlling treatments at this time are best as they will keep the pests at bay all fall, winter, and into the spring – when they are most devastating to Hemlocks.

How Does Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Damage Trees?

Unlike other insects, such as Winter Moths, that feed on the leaves, needles, twigs, or new buds of trees, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) does not damage Hemlocks by feeding. The Hemlock Woolly Adelgid sucks the sap from Hemlock needles but also introduces a chemical from its saliva which acts as a toxin. This toxin accelerates the demise of the tree. The loss of sap will cause needles to brown and drop, leaving trees unable to produce food and energy via photosynthesis.

Healthy trees, in good growing sites, may withstand infestations for 5-10 years before being seriously affected. Trees stressed from drought, soil compaction or those in poor growing sites may succumb to HWA within 3 years. Hemlocks infested with Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, usually stick out like a sore thumb, as the rich green color is replaced by a grayish or yellowish hue. In a group of Hemlocks, you can usually pick out one infested with HWA fairly easily.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Affecting Mass amount of Trees

This pest attacks both the Eastern (Canada) Hemlock and the Carolina Hemlock, two species common to New England. The Western Hemlock is resistant to this pest, but does not grow well in the Northeast.

Preventing and Managing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Once this pest has been identified on Hemlocks, it must be handled quickly. Applications of horticultural oil have been shown to be extremely effective against Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. For the best preventative measures, the foliar applications should be in both early spring and fall to keep your Hemlocks free of this pest.

The horticultural oil kills the organism by suffocation and is effective against all life stages, including the eggs. Hemlocks that have already been infested may require more treatments to kill the pest, and keep it from returning.

For trees that have already been seriously infested, we recommend pairing a foliar application with a soil injection treatment for the best chance of saving the Hemlock tree. However, if the toxin from their saliva has already infiltrated the tree and it may take a while for the tree to rebound. It can take an entire year or more until the toxicity in the tree is reduced.

The common misconception among homeowners with treated Hemlocks is that they think the tree is still infested because they see the small “white spots” on their trees. What really happens when treatments are applied correctly is that the insects are killed, but their woolly protective covering remains on the tree. Over time the woolly covering (white spots) will fall off.

Once the pest has been brought under control, the trees continue to require once or twice yearly treatments as well as regular pruning to prevent infestation. Untreated trees in surrounding areas will act a reservoir for this pest and serve to re-infest treated trees. HWA spreads through wind and birds which are primarily responsible for the movement of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid from tree to tree.


Controlling and preventing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is relatively straight forward, and the insects can be killed quickly. Hemlocks should be treated for HWA every year. Even if your Hemlocks have not been infested, these pests have spread so rapidly that there is no way to ensure your trees will remain free of infestation. The most popular question regarding HWA treatments is, “What does it cost?” Depending on the number and size of trees to be treated. The cost of removing and/or replacing the dead Hemlocks is significantly greater than the investment in HWA preventative treatments, so keeping your Hemlocks safe and healthy with preventative treatments is always a wise idea.

If you have Hemlocks on your property it is a good idea to schedule a free inspection with a Certified Arborist to ensure the health and safety of your Hemlock trees. Request a free evaluation below.


Editors Note: This post was originally published in April 2012 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Apple Scab: A Fungal Disease

Apple Scab: A Common Fungus

Apple Scab-1

Apple and Crabapple trees are very popular across our region; however, without proper care they can become infested with unwanted apple scab, effectively devastating the leaves and fruit.

Apple scab is a fungus that can infect the leaves and fruit of both apple and crabapple trees, and also mountain ash and pear trees. Scab appears as a brown velvet-like lesion, and it thrives during the wet periods of the spring and summer. It needs to be treated during the growing season.



How does Apple Scab affect my Tree?

Apple scab will be more of a problem to susceptible crabapple cultivars. Once the tree is infected the leaves will eventually turn yellow and fall prematurely. Highly susceptible crabapple trees can lose a majority of their leaves by mid-summer. This will cause the tree to become much weaker. Apple scab does not kill your trees but it can greatly affect its aesthetics as well as the growth of the fruit and yes, crabapples are edible! In severe cases it can reduce or completely eliminate the fruit yield for an entire growing season.

The Disease Cycle

Apple scab overwinters on leaves that are infected that had been shed already. Once the rainy days start to come in spring, the spores then are expelled from the infected leaves and are moved around by air currents and splashes of rain where they can then start new infections. If the weather is favorable (rainy/moist) it can enable the leaf spots that are infected to mature and produce new fungal spore which will reach the nearby leaves and in turn spreading the disease. Excessive rainfall in the prime seasons (spring and summer) often results in the disease coming back again with more severity.

How to Manage Apple Scab

  • Proper care measures include pruning in the late winter or early spring to increase airflow and remove any infected areas; however, it is best to prune when conditions are dry. Pruning during wet periods can actually aid in the spreading of scab.
  • Raking and destroying the leaves as they fall should reduce the severity of the disease next season as the fungus overwinters on partially decayed leaves.
  • Topical fungicide applications are also recommended every year to help prevent infestation on susceptible trees. 
    • Chemical fungicides are used for two purposes:
      1. Preventative: Sprayed on the leaves and fruit prior to infection. This will help effectively prevent the fungal spores from germinating or penetrating the host.2. Curative: Applied shortly after infection can hinder the development of the fungus which will limit the progression of the disease.

Being aware of scab now will help you prevent it next season. If your apples and crabapples were not treated for scab this spring, we recommend inspecting them to see if scab has developed. If so, we recommend you take the proper care measures beginning next March or April in order to prevent apple scab.

Pest Management Consultation

If you have any questions or concerns please don't hesitate to reach out to us at 877-308-8733! All estimates are free of charge. We look forward to hearing from you.

Editors Note: This post was originally published in July 2011 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Controlling and Preventing Winter Moths

What Are Winter Moths?

Winter moths are invasive pests, originating from Europe and Western Asia. These insects were first found in North America in the 1930s; however, their population in Massachusetts exploded, causing home owners, property managers, and arborists’ tremendous stress, as winter moth larvae shredded and stripped the leaves off of their variety of deciduous trees.

Winter Moth Appearance

The winter moth larvae are pale green caterpillars with white stripes that run down either side of their body. The male winter moth have a light tan color, with four elongated wings that encompass their bodies. The wings of males gives them a “furry” look. Female winter moths have a grey color, as well as tiny scales that give off that furry look just like the males. Unlike the males, the females are incapable of flight.

Dangers of the Winter Moth

Winter moths are only dangerous to your trees in the larval, or caterpillar stage; however, you can treat for them in both the egg and caterpillar stage with either spray or injection treatments. The larvae or caterpillars once hatched will scale the trees searching for fresh buds and leaves they can start devouring. Once they find their fresh bud they wriggle between the scales of the newly blooming buds and begin feeding on the flower and foliar buds from within. The caterpillars don’t stop and will continue to migrate from bud to bud devouring as much as they can. Large populations can quickly defoliate trees which can result in limb or tree failure. Once the caterpillars become mature they drop to the ground and envelope themselves in a soft, wooly cocoon for pupation. When they finish pupation, they emerge from the soil throughout November and December but if the temperature remains mild they can be active into January.

Common Tree Hosts for the Winter Moth

  • Oak Tree

  • Maple Tree

  • Cherry Trees

  • Ash Tree

  • White Elm Tree

  • Spruce Trees

  • Crabapple and Apple Trees

Prevention and Management Winter Moth

Winter Moths Can Be Controlled and Prevented

Let’s consider the calendar year here in Massachusetts. If we’re experiencing an average year temperature wise, you can expect winter moth eggs to begin hatching between late March and the third week in April. If we’re having an unusually warm late winter and early spring they will hatch sooner. Conversely, a colder winter and early spring will delay their hatching.

Winter Moth Prevention

It is best to prevent the pests from hatching with a horticultural oil treatment early in the spring. When the winter moths hatch they begin feasting on the budding leaves very early on, which can be extremely devastating to a tree. The winter moths will continue to feed and grow throughout the year. Treatments become more difficult as the winter moths grow, but it is still possible to control these pests. Spray or soil/trunk injection treatments with Spinosads and B.t.k can be used to defeat the caterpillars, which would otherwise feast on your leaves until dropping to the ground in May or June for the summer.

Treating and Controlling Winter Moth

In order to effectively treat winter moth, you first need to establish what stage the pests are in. Once you’ve identified the stage, then you can plan your treatment attack, but not without considering some other variables such as the size of tree to be treated, or proximity of homes or structures. These variables will help decide what type of treatment to use: topical spray application or injection treatment. For example, if you have an infested tree hanging over your swimming pool, you may want to consider an injection treatment.

It is important to treat for winter moths early in the year. Waiting until you physically see damage often means it is too late. Consider meeting with a Certified Arborist or Plant Health Expert in the late winter to discuss winter moth treatments.

If you have any questions or concerns about Winter Moth please contact us at 877-308-8733 or click the button below. 


winter moth control

Pictured here are two examples of severe winter moth damage, with the culprit in the middle.

Editors Note: This post was originally published in March 2012 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Rhododendrons VS Black Vine Weevil

What is a Black Vine Weevil?

The Black Vine Weevil (BVW) is an insect pest that injures plants, Rhododendrons being top choice throughout the US. In Massachusetts there are few natural predators of this species. 

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Adult Black Vine Weevils

The adult weevil is dark gray to black and has subtle white flecking. It has a short broad snout. It can lay as many as 300 eggs near plants over a period of 2-3 weeks. Eggs are laid near the base of the plants and will hatch in two weeks. Black Vine Weevils do not fly so they crawl from shrub to shrub. During daytime the adults hide in dark places; soil, garden debris, lead litter, mulch and even the crevices of the plant. The adult feeding rarely causes serious plant injury, however the feeding habit of the notching of leaves is evidence the pest is present. Action should be taken to mitigate damage by the next generation of BVW. 

Black Vine Weevil -

Black Vine Weevil Larvae

BVW Larvae are a creamy-white color with a brown head. They are the most destructive stage of the Black Vine Weevil. In August, the C-shaped larvae begin tunneling through roots and can girdle the stem feeding just below the soil line on cambium and cause plant death. When the BVW feeds it can cause nutrient deficiencies and poor functioning roots. If the plant has nutrient deficiencies or poor functioning roots the leaves yellow, wilt and plants can die. Thinner foliage is more susceptible than a thicker plant. 

Controlling Black Vine Weevil

BVW is an active feeder that will quickly drop to the ground if disturbed. This is when foliar applications work best. We recommend doing the following:

  • Pruning rhododendrons so foliage does not touch the ground reducing the Black Vine Weevil's access to the shrubs
  • Clear leaf litter to keep BVW from being able to hide underneath it
  • Apply two Summer Foliar Treatments
  • Fertilize your plants
  • Remove dead or infested foliage to limit overwintering sites

Are you seeing notches on your Rhododendron leaves? Is the damage so extensive that the entire leaf edges are jagged and unsightly? Give us a call now, young new growth is the particular foliage of choice for the BVW. We have more than one control option available.

Keeping plants healthy and happy is the first defense, fertilization is recommended!

If you have any questions about Black Vine Weevil or are interested in any of our services please do not hesitate to contact us at 877-308-8733 or click the link below!

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Decline of Eastern White Pine in Eastern Massachusetts

Background on Eastern White Pine Trees

Eastern White Pine 2

The Eastern white pine tree was designated as the official state tree of Maine in 1945, which has been coined as the “The Pine Tree State” and appears on Maine’s state flag and seal. In 1955, the state of Michigan also chose the Eastern white pine to be their official state tree as a symbol of their logging history. The Eastern white pine is considered to be one of the largest conifer trees in the north eastern United States. Since 2009, the Eastern white pine has been experiencing dieback and general decline, which is a great concern regarding one of the most economically valuable and ecologically important forest trees in the northeast. Recently, the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass Amherst) posted information that begins to explain the reason for these symptoms of decline. According Dr. Nick Brazee, a plant pathologist at the UMass Amherst, it is a combination of climate change, several fungal pathogens, and a particular species of insects that are responsible for the decline in the Eastern white pines.

White Pine Needle Drop (WPND)

Disease is primarily responsible for the symptoms of declining pines, namely premature needle drop, yellowing of needles, resinosis, dieback of canopy, and branch and tree death. WPND is caused by several fungal pathogens. Once you see the needles begin to become discolored (yellow/brown), it is usually the cause of the root pathogens due to it affecting the entirety of the tree. At the same time, the environment for spore activity and germination has been fueled by the increase in temperatures and precipitation in the northeast region of the United States.

Caliciopsis Canker & Bast Scale

Caliciopsis Pine Canker Jen WeimerAnother fungus and insect complex that is also partially responsible for the dieback of Eastern white pines are the caliciopsis canker and white pine bast scale. Bast scale is tiny, black, oval-shaped scales that lack both eyes and legs. Bast scale use a long stylet to drain sap from outer layers of phloem (tissue) of twigs and branches. White pine bast scales live under lichens, which are slow growing plants that form crusty leaf-like growth on rocks and trees. These have been found on white pine branches. 

Recently, the white pine bast scale has been identified as a catalyst for the development of caliciopsis canker in white pine trees. Although the bast scale causes almost no damage to the tree, the feeding areas that they produce are extremely conducive to the development of caliciopsis cankers in trees. The primary problem with an outbreak of caliciopsis cankers is that they cause dead areas in the tree’s tissue and as more cankers develop, the affected branches will eventually be unable to disperse the water into the foliage and in which case, the tree will die. Root rot diseases can also affect the dieback of white pines, and will be addressed in a future post.

Ways to Manage White Pine Needle Drop

Young White Pine

In conclusion, tree thinning, or selective removal of branches, of existing white pines aids in the reduction of WPND by increasing radial growth, promoting crown vigor, and an overall general reduction in WPND. Many arborists have also found that fertilizing the tree with nitrogen can help to restore vigor, especially to trees highly stressed from WPND. Fungicide applications are often impractical for large trees or multiple trees, but focused applications on specimen or very young white pines can be helpful to control WPND. It has become clear that the issues affecting white pines are not going away any time soon, but can be controlled using an experienced, dedicated team of arborists.

If you have any questions, or you are interested in any of our tree services, please contact us at 877-308-8733, or request a free consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!

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Bob Lees, MCLP

Photo of Caliciopsis Canker Courtesy of Jen Weimer

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