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Carpenter Costin Blog

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

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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

Invasive Vines: Black Swallow-Wort

What is Black Swallow-Wort?

Black swallow-wort and it’s “twin” Pale swallow-wort are two invasive vines currently growing in New England, and are deemed invasive in Massachusetts and Connecticut. These herbaceous, twining vines grow three to six feet, with opposite, shiny leaves 2” to 4” long. 

imageThe flowers on swallow-wort are dark, usually purple black on Black, and Maroon on Pale swallow-wort, and produces seedpods 1.5” to 3” long, bearing numerous seeds. Due to a strong fibrous root system, eradication by digging is difficult, as plants can regenerate from root fragments.  A healthy stand of swallow-wort may produce between 1000 and 2000 seeds per square meter, per year, depending on sunlight. Swallow-worts grow in full sun to partial shade, and are more invasive in full sunlight.

Problems Black Swallow-wort Cause

Black Swallow-wort and Pale Swallow-wort invade planting beds, climbing up your trees and shrubs and even under your storm windows. According to, http://nyis.info/invasive_species/swallow-wort/ they are two distinct species but share similar characteristics. A similar characteristic that they both share is that they are both perennial climbing vines. Which means that they don't just die over time, they just keep reoccurring through the thousands of seeds they produce. Once the Black Swallow-wort settles in, they form extensive patches that overgrow and smother the native vegetation.

How Invasive Vines affect Monarch Butterflies

Besides its ability to displace native plants, swallow-worts are also interfering with the reproductive success of the Monarch Butterfly, and possibly other species as well. 

Monarchs normally lay their eggs on native milkweeds, which are disappearing due to competitive pressure from swallow-worts. In addition, Monarch eggs which are laid on Black swallow-wort have nearly 0% hatching success. This is because when the larvae are born they can't ingest or use the toxin that is in either the Black Swallow-wort or the Pale Swallow-wort in which they won't be able to survive. 

How to control Black Swallow-wort

Control is particularly difficult, because of the rhizome root system and fibrous root. Early detection and physical removal is recommended as the best control method. It is crucial to dig out the roots completely. Chemical methods are rarely 100% effective, and there is no biological control at present. Being able to identify and remove the individuals before they seed and spread is an important tool in the effort to stop the species.

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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Photo courtesy of Becky Gallery, Harpswell Heritage Land Trust

Sycamore Anthracnose Defoliates Trees

We have seen widespread defoliation of Sycamore trees this year due to Sycamore Anthracnose.

Sycamore Tree with Anthracnose

A picture of a Sycamore that has been affected by Sycamore Anthracnose

For those of you who do not know what Sycamore Anthracnose is, it is a fungal pathogen that is generally related to wet spring weather. Unfortunately wet spring weather is what we have been seeing a lot of. It infects newly developing shoots and leaves causing the buds to have very slow development to leaf out in the spring, or in some cases never leaf out. 

Signs and Symptoms of Sycamore Anthracnose

Infecting the vascular system of a tree this fungal disease attacks buds, leaves and twigs, defoliating the trees and damaging the small branches. Sycamore Anthracnose spreads from an infected tree to healthy ones when its fungal spores are transported by the wind. 

Sycamore Tree Branches with Anthracnose

Signs that a Sycamore tree is suffering from this disease:

  • Leaf blight or defoliation early in the summer
  • Twisted or gnarled branches or twigs
  • Formations of dead or dying twigs and small branches also called "witches brooms"
  • Lesions on leaves that are black or brown in color
  • Sunken cankers on younger twigs or small branches

 Managing Sycamore Anthracnose

From what we see these trees should re-foliate this year. In order to really get a handle on this disease to make sure it does not spread to a healthy tree. We recommend looking into some treatment plans.

Deep root fertilization is recommended to help invigorate trees as they have been stressed by the Anthracnose. This will give the tree the push it needs to flush new growth along with the help of warmer and drier weather. 

Early season treatment with fungicide applications or injection can help manage this disease. Contact an arborist today to come assess your trees and see what treatment would be best for you. 

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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Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is Killing Our Trees

What is Hemlock Woolly Adelgid?

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) is a tiny insect that is barely visible. It is atypical of most other insect species as it is dormant for much of the growing season and active throughout the winter.Hemlock-woolly-adelgid.jpeg

When is Hemlock Woolly Adelgid active?

By mid-July, the immature insects settle on the stems, at the base of the needles, and become dormant, neither feeding nor developing. By mid-October, the insect resumes feeding and development. By mid-February they start producing new egg masses. Most people become aware of this pest when they notice the white, cottony egg masses lined up at the base of the needles on their Hemlocks.

How Does HWA Damage Trees?

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.

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.

Managing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

Once this pest has been identified on Hemlocks, it must be managed quickly. Applications of horticultural oil have been shown to be extremely effective against Hemlock Woolly Adelgid. The oil kills the organism by suffocation and is effective against all life stages, including the eggs. Severely infested trees will need more intensive pesticide treatments.

Once the pest has been brought under control, the trees continue to require once or twice yearly treatments. Untreated trees in surrounding areas will act a reservoir for this pest and serve to re-infest treated trees. Wind and birds are primarily responsible for the movement of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid from tree to tree.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a serious threat to our beautiful Hemlocks and should not be ignored. 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.

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Gypsy Moth Infestation Expected to Be Bad in Spring 2016

If you don’t remember the Gypsy moth infestation of the 80’s, you will be introduced to this insect in the Spring.  Last year we saw pockets of Gypsy Moth infestation in the Topsfield area and surrounding towns. As their population increases, more and more local areas can expect tree damage from these nasty pests.

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The following description is from U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Insect Leaflet 162:

The gypsy moth, Lymantria dispar Linnaeus, is one of the most notorious pests of hardwood trees in the Eastern United States. Since 1980, the gypsy moth has defoliated close to a million or more forested acres each year.

In 1981, a record 12.9 million acres were defoliated. This is an area larger than Rhode Island, Massachusetts,and Connecticut combined.

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A single gypsy moth caterpillar can eat a square foot of leaves a day.  Although trees have a second set of leaves ready to replace those they lose, this takes significant energy. Three or four years of complete defoliation can result in the death of even a large tree.  In wooded suburban areas, during periods of infestation, when trees are visibly defoliated, gypsy moth larvae crawl up and down walls, across roads, over outdoor furniture, and even inside homes.

Gypsy Moths emerge about one month after Winter Moth/Cankerworms, another ferocious feeder, extending the caterpillar feeding season by at least a month.

How to Treat for Gypsy Moths:

Gypsy Moths are treated in the same way as Winter Moth/Cankerworms, by spray or injection. If you are treating your trees for Winter Moth/Cankerworms, an additional 1 or 2 treatments may be needed to protect your trees from Gypsy Moths.

If you'd like to schedule a free consultation with a Plant Health expert, click below:

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Beech Trees Suffer Epidemic Decline

An epidemic decline is affecting European Beech trees up and down the east coast. Beech trees are being infected by a fungus that causes bleeding cankers on the lower trunk and eventual die-off in the upper branches. If this fungus is left untreated the tree will die within five years.

Phytophthora on Beech Tree

Beech Phytophthora pathogen is the culprit. This fungus enters wounds and succulent roots causing cankers that ooze reddish-brown sap. Eventually, new leaves remain small and yellow, and branches begin to die.

These ‘bleeding’ cankers cause the cambium, the living layer of the tree where most vital cellular activity takes place, to lose moisture and dry out. This leads to root loss and canopy decline resulting in the death of the tree.

How to Treat Beech Phytophthora

Treatment with a broad spectrum fungicide, applied to the trunk, can stop the damage, allowing the tree to recover, essentially ‘healing the wounds’.

Helping a tree to grow is the most important thing to improve the health of a sick tree. Radial trenching with an air spade, back filling with compost and deep root, liquid fertilization have proven to be the best methods to increase and invigorate tree growth. [Learn more about plant health care here]

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Please note that Beech Phytophthora only affects European Beech trees, not American Beech. European Beech are the most common variety used in landscape plantings.

If you would like a Certified Arborist to inspect your Beech trees, as well as the other trees and plants on your property, please call us at 877-308-8733 or click below for a free consultation.

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Why Heavy Winter Snowfall Can Lead to a Bad Tick Season

Expect a bad tick season as this winter's thick layer of snow served as insulation for the over-wintering tick population

Before we completely put this past winter behind us, let's not forget about a problem that lurks on the horizon as a result of the tremendous amount of snow we received. The tick population is expected to explode this year due to the protection they received from the blanket of insulating snow. Usually a significant portion of the over-wintering ticks die from freezing conditions, but the snow was in their favor this past season.

[Click here to Learn How to Treat Your Property for Deer Ticks] 

An interesting fact is that ticks are not actually insects, since they have two distinct body parts and 8 legs. In fact, they have more in common with arthropods like spiders and mites. Their evolution comes from crustaceans, but try not to think of that when eating lobster. In New England we are primarily concerned with the Suborder Ixodida, otherwise known as hard ticks. There are several species of hard ticks and they are the vectors of many diseases, most notably Lyme disease. Nearly 300,000 new cases are documented in the US each year and the rate continues to rise year after year. The numbers have reached epidemic proportions and billions are spent each year trying to treat the symptoms of this debilitating disease.

Tick Disease Powassan

Unfortunately, there is a newly identified disease called Powassan that is also transmitted by ticks with devastating consequences. Although most people who are infected do not show signs of the disease, others do suffer encephalitis and even death. It goes without saying that those with low immunity systems are most at risk and should avoid wooded areas or tall grassy fields.

On average, a female tick will lay approximately 2,000 eggs in May. These pest are most vulnerable for treatment during the summer months and a product using Permethrin is best used for controls. The best means of applying the controls is spraying with a high pressure commercial hydraulic spray unit, specifically directed towards areas of tick habitation.

If you'd like to protect your loved ones from ticks, consider consulting with an Arborist or Plant Health Care Specialist to see what you can do to mitigate the threat of ticks on your property.

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White Pine Needle Disease: Know the facts!

Needle_blightHere in the northeast much of our landscape is dominated by white pines. These trees are valuable habitat, forest, and landscape trees. In recent years we've been seeing several diseases that cause the needles to become damaged and die off.  While white pine can withstand a year or two of defoliation, subsequent defoliation will greatly decrease the trees overall health and will lead to larger more damaging problems.

How to combat the issues

To keep your white pines healthy and looking great we have a three point plan of protections: First, we fertilize in the spring to help the soft needles expand quickly through their vulnerable stage. Second, we begin fungicide applications to protect the outer surface of the needles. Third, a fall fertilization helps the tree put on woody mass so it can store more sugars for the following spring.

Keeping up on this trifecta of protection is the only way to help your pines. To have one of our certified arborists inspect your trees and offer a plan to keep them healthy, request a free consultation.

 

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Tips For Removing Ticks

The tick population in our area has exploded. Heavy snow cover this past winter kept ticks nice and warm, and helped them multiply unchecked. Very cold, snow-less winters tend to diminish populations.

Some species of ticks carry Lyme disease, which can be difficult to treat when contracted in humans and animals. These tiny bloodsuckers multiply quickly and are found in lawns, tall grasses and woods. Ticks get picked up when people or animals walk by and brush against them. They will then attach to skin and feed on your blood until they are so heavy or full that they can no long hold on and fall off on their own.

What To Do If You Get Bitten By a Tick

If you or your pet does get bitten, here are some tips to remove ticks:

  • First, don't panic!
  • Clean the area around the bite with rubbing alcohol
  • Use tweezers to grab the tick and get as close to your skin as possible
  • Pull upward with steady pressure. Don't twist or wiggle or pull too hard too fast - you don't want the body to separate from the mouth!
  • If the mouth does separate, use tweezers to remove the mouth
  • Once removed, do not throw ticks in the trash as they are difficult to kill. Burning (as in a campfire) or flushing down the toilet in soapy water is better.

Treating Your Yard for Ticks

The best tip we can offer in regard to ticks: Treat your yard to help control these pests and protect your family and pets! Just one monthly treatment suppresses the population. It's easy, fast, and non-disruptive: as soon as the treatment is dry you can head back outside to enjoy your yard. Imagine how nice it would be to play in the grass without worrying about ticks. And pet owners: the treatment kills fleas, too!

We offer a 100% all natural program which means that we do not use any chemicals that can harm your plants or beneficial insects.

For more information about treating your yard for ticks or to request a free consultation, call us at 877-308-8733.

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