Carpenter Costin Blog

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.


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.


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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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, snowless 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 live in lawns, tall grasses and woods, waiting for people or animals brush by and pick them up. They will then attach to skin and feed on your blood until they are so heavy that they can no long hold on.

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!
  • Use tweezer 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!

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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Tree Fungus

Spring showers bring May flowers, but they also bring fungus diseases.  Theseare some of the most prevalent and damaging.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Dogwood_AnthracnoseAnthracnose infection begins in the leaves, causing them to brown and dry up.   Over time, infection of twigs and shoots may kill branches, usually beginning with those low on the tree, moving upward.  Infected trees may die within 1-3 years.  Spring treatments help control infection.



Apple Scab

Apple_scabFlowering Apples and Crabapples are susceptible to a fungus disease called Apple Scab.  The results of this disease are yellow and brown leaves and defoliation by early summer.    Foliar treatments can protect you trees from this disease. Varieties resistant to the disease are available.



DiplodiaDiplodia infects Austrian and Red Pines in our territory.  Symptoms show as brown, stunted new shoots with short, brown needles. Needles on infected new shoots often become discolored (tan, brown).  New shoots are killed rapidly by the fungus. Repeated infections reduce growth, deform trees, and ultimately kill them.


For more information about treatments call us or click below to request a free consultation.

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Treatment of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in the Fall

Treating for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in the fall will mitigate the pest just as they are coming out of their dormant stage, or prevent your healthy Hemlocks from being infested.

As temperatures begin to cool in the fall, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid leaves its summer dormancy to once again feast on the Hemlocks across the North East. Depending on the temperature, this usually occurs between late September and October. Preventative or controlling treatments at this time are best as they will keep the pests at bay all fall, winter, and into the spring – a fall hemlock woolly adelgid treatmentperiod of time when they are most devastating to Hemlocks.

Preventing and controlling Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) can be accomplished with a foliar application of Horticultural Oil. For the best preventative measures, an application in both the early spring and fall will keep your Hemlocks free of this pest. 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, pair a foliar application with a soil injection treatment for the best chance of saving the Hemlock.  

Once infested, a Hemlock can be quickly defoliated by HWA. To ensure your Hemlock trees remain healthy and safe, consider preventative Woolly Adelgid treatments. Our Arborists recommend preventative HWA treatments on all Hemlocks, even if they have never been infested, as the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid has become so prevalent in our region. It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when your Hemlocks will be infested.

The most popular question regarding HWA treatments is, “What does it cost?” Most HWA treatments will be under $150, and can be much less 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.

To have a Certified Arborist out to inspect your Hemlocks, or to sign up for a Hemlock Woolly Adelgid treatment, click the button below.


treating hemlock woolly adelgid

Treating HWA with a foliar application of Horticultural Oil will control and prevent the prevalent pest.

Lookout for Lace Bugs on Your Broadleaf Evergreens

Lace Bugs can be found feeding on your broadleaf evergreens trees throughout the summer.

Lace Bugs are common in our area and can be found on a variety of hosts, both evergreen and deciduous. During the summer, Lace Bugs are notorious for damaging broadleaf evergreens, such as rhododendron and azalea.

The Lace Bug

The rhododendron and azalea Lace Bugs are small, winged insects that only grow to be a few millimeters long. Their wings have a net-like pattern, and they are usually scattered with black or brown spots. Lace Bugs cause damage when feeding on a leaf due to their piercing mouths, which they use to suck nutrients out.

Identifying Lace Bug Damage

Lace Bugs will usually feed from the underside of a leaf, piercing and sucking the leaf and ultimately killing the cells, which in turn creates yellow spots on the top side of infested plants. When a plant becomes severely damaged, the leaves will take on a gray blotched appearance or turn entirely brown. If severe damage occurs, the plant may be beyond rescue.

Treating for Lace Bugs

Controlling Lace Bugs can be accomplished with a systemic insecticide; however, preventative measures are recommended if you have commonly infested plants, such as the rhododendron and azalea.

Investigate your broadleaf evergreens and look for yellow spots on the leaves. If you see yellow spots you likely have Lace Bugs feeding on the underside. Request a free consultation with a pest management professional to learn more about Lace Bug treatments and control.


lace bug damage

A close up of a Lace Bug, and the damage that these pests can cause.

Insects that are Beneficial to Your Landscape: Lady Bugs

Not all insects are detrimental to your landscape. Some are actually good to keep around!

It may be a shocking site at first; a mass of beetles on one of your shrubs that bloomed so beautifully just a few weeks ago, but actually these beetles are eating the Aphids that are damaging the shrub. The Ladybird Beetle (or Lady Bug) is just one beneficial insect that you’ll find in your landscape this summer, and their main course of action is making the Aphid their main course of dinner. There are many other beneficial insects, but let’s stick to the Lady Bugs for now.

Aphids have been prevalent in our region this year, so it is likely that you will see an increase in Lady Bugs in the coming weeks. Usually found on the underside of leaves, Aphids cause damage to plants by using their piercing mouths to suck the plant’s juices. Lady Bugs will seek large populations of Aphids and feast on them heavily until the food source is depleted, then they’ll continue their search for more food.

There is a large variety of Aphids and they can be found on a number of host plants in our region ranging from forsythia, to beech, to oaks, and many more. If you’re noticing an abundance of Lady Bugs, it is likely that you have Aphids on your property. Lady Bugs are good, and they’ll seek out Aphids, but by this point there is usually already damage done to your plants and shrubs. It is best to use an insecticidal soap or oil to remedy an Aphid problem – rather than building a team of Lady Bugs.

If you’re noticing Lady Bugs, or Aphids, on your plants it is a good idea to consult with a Certified Arborist to learn how you can keep your plants safe and healthy.


ladybird beetle

This pair of Lady Bugs is on the hunt for Aphids. The small white spots on the leaves are indicators that Aphids have fed on the underside of the leaves.

Preventing and Treating Pine Sawfly Infestations

Pine Sawflies have hatched, or will be hatching soon, throughout our region. Be sure you have the proper management techniques in place.

The Pine Sawfly is a destructive pest that targets the two and three needle pines in New England, meaning they only infest pines where the needles are in bundles, or fascicles, of two and three needles each. Mugo Pines are usually the primary host for Pine Sawflies in the region.

Each year, Pine Sawflies will hatch into the larval stage and feast on two and three needle pines, like the Mugo pine, voraciously. What's unique about Pine Sawfly is that they only feed on the older needles of a pine, usually leaving the young needles unscathed. The Sawfly will form very tight groups and feed quickly, moving throughout a pine until it is completely defoliated.

Treating Pine Sawfly larvae can be done in two methods depending on how the groups are formed. Very small groups of the larvae can be pruned off the tree and disposed of. Larger groups; however, will require an insecticide treatment. Over the counter insecticides, such as Sevin, will work on Pine Sawflies, but be sure you’re familiar with the toxicity level of the product you buy.

Our pest management programs include Pine Sawfly treatments, but you can also choose a target treatment on Mugo Pines, or other pines if you’ve had an issue with this pest in the past. Request a free consultation to learn more about pest management programs.

The video below shows Pine Sawflies in action, as well as the defoliated pine left after just a short amount of time feeding. Look closely to see the Sawfly squirming around.

Controlling and Preventing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestation

Ensure your Hemlocks are safe from this invasive pest with proper HWA treatment practices.

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.

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. Instead, the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid causes damage to Hemlocks because its saliva is toxic to the tree. As the HWA feeds on the Hemlock, its saliva is spread through the needles and slowly Hemlock Wooly Adelgiddisperses throughout the tree.

Unhealthy Hemlocks, particularly those infested with HWA, 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.

Controlling and preventing HWA is relatively straight forward, and the insects can be killed quickly; however, 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 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 will fall off.

Hemlocks need to 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. There really is no rhyme or reason to when HWA will infest, but it is well-known that they are force to be reckoned with for Hemlocks in our region. A topical treatment of Horticultural oil in the spring and fall, coupled with an injection treatment in between will do the job.

If you think you may have Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, or have Hemlocks that are not treated regularly you should consider consulting with a Certified Arborist to learn how to keep your Hemlocks safe.


Choosing a Pest Management Program for Your Property

With various different pest management programs available, how do you decide which is best for your property?

If you’re wondering which pest management program is best for your property than you have already conquered the biggest barrier to having a great landscape – you understand the importance of tree, shrub, and lawn health. From here you need to ask yourself a few questions before deciding which pest management program to sign up for (hint: asking a Certified Arborist will help).

First, you need to have your property evaluated by a professional. An educated eye can catch infestations and threats before they occur; and ensure they never occur by recommending proper preventative treatments. You’ll also be able to uncover existing issues and remedy them with reactionary treatments.

Once you’ve had your landscape evaluated, you’ll then need to determine a budget and a strategy. This can often be a difficult decision, which is why we provide a diverse selection of pest management programs ranging from one-time target treatments to comprehensive multi-visit programs, and even “All-Natural” plant health programs.  A plant health care expert can help you decide on which program to select. If you’re only concern is a specific pest like Winter Moths or Ticks, then a target treatment will suit you well, but if you have been infested by multiple pests, or have a susceptible landscape, it is in your best interest to select a multi-visit program, both for economic purposes and effectiveness.

To get an idea on what pests you should be worried about, download the spring eBook.

Custom pest management programs can be tailored to suit your property. These programs can include target treatments, preventative programs, fertilization, and various other treatments to ensure tree, shrub, and turf health.

If you’re interested in keeping your landscape healthy and appealing, then please consider a free consultation with one of our plant health experts. A qualified professional will be able to help you decide on an appropriate pest management strategy for your property.


pest management program

A comprehensive pest management program will keep your entire property healthy and attractive.


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