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Carpenter Costin Blog

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.

Please check out our growing Insect Disease Glossary for more information!



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.

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.

Prevent Tree Fungus Infections This Spring

Spring Showers Bring May Flowers, but They Also Bring Fungus Diseases

Despite bringing the moisture needed to spark plant life in our region, spring presents an environment that promotes insect, disease, and fungus activity. Excess moisture and moderate temperatures can almost guarantee fungus development. If temperatures are very warm, trees and shrubs become less susceptible to fungus; however, in damp, cool, and dark areas, fungus can thrive and seriously damage your trees and shrubs. A few fungus diseases to look out for this spring include:

Dogwood Anthracnose

Anthracnose 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 and moving upward. Infected trees can die within one to three years. Treatments in the spring help prevent and control anthracnose infections.

Apple Scab

Flowering Apples and Crabapples are susceptible to a fungus disease called Apple Scab. The results of this disease are yellow and brown leaves in the spring, and defoliation by early summer. Foliar treatments can protect your trees from this fungus disease. If planting new Apples and Crabapples, there are varieties that are resistant to fungus, so be sure to check with an Arborist first.


Diplodia infects mainly Austrian and Red Pines in our region. Initial symptoms show as stunted new shoots with short, brown needles. The needles on infected trees often become discolored and become tan or brown, rather than green. New shoots will be killed rapidly by the fungus. Repeated infections seriously reduce growth and deform trees, which will ultimately kill them.

Don’t let your trees become infected with fungus this spring. Preventative fungicides are recommended on susceptible trees, and maintenance pruning will help to improve light and air flow, which will help keep a tree fungus-free. Request a consultation with one of our plant health care experts to discover how to keep your trees free of fungus infections.


spring fungus infection

Left to right: Dogwood Anthracnose, Apple Scab, and Diplodia

Keep Your Property Free of Ticks This Year

Mild Winter Means Tick Populations Will Be Troublesome This Year

In New England, harsh winter conditions usually help control tick populations by making it difficult for the pests to survive throughout the winter. However, when conditions are relatively mild, with little snow, ticks can endure the winter and thrive come spring time. Deer ticks

Ticks have become a serious problem over the last few years. Although they have always been present in New England, their population seems to be increasing each year. Due to the increase in population, cases of Lyme disease acquired from ticks have been increasing as well. Lyme disease is usually acquired from ticks in the nymphal stage, commonly referred to as "deer ticks;" however, deer are not the only animal to carry the ticks. Mice, raccoons, skunks, gophers, and various other rodents are all hosts of deer ticks.

Tips to keeping ticks off your property

In order to rid your yard of ticks, and prevent them from coming back you really need to exercise a two-pronged approach, with both technical and cultural practices. If you follow the tips below, you'll be well on your way to having a tick free property.

Ensure leaf and yard debris is cleaned up.
  • Ticks will rest in leaf litter, waiting to grab on to a host.

Keep wood piles and stone walls clean to limit areas where rodents frequent

  • Limiting areas for hosts will reduce the number of ticks.

Create a barrier around your property with tick control applications

  • We recommend a three step application of tick and mosquito treatment (Spring, Summer, Fall)

Always Check Yourself!

Make sure you are constantly checking your children and pets for ticks. If you have been working in the yard, be sure to closely inspect yourself as well. Throw the clothes you wore directly into the dryer for a 20 minute cycle, which should kill any ticks that may have jumped on to your clothes. Be very observant, because deer ticks are small, sometimes as small as a pen tip. Keeping your yard free of deer and rodents is absolutely imperative to keeping ticks out.

If the late winter has been any indication of the severity of ticks in our region, it is going to be a brutal year. Please take ticks seriously and follow the steps above to keep your property free of ticks. To find out more about our tick management programs please request a free consultation with a Carpenter Costin pest management specialist.


Blight Disease Found in Massachusetts' Boxwoods

The Defoliating Fungal Disease has Recently Been Found on Boxwood Trees in Massachusetts

The Plant Diagnostics Lab at the UMass Extension confirmed findings of Boxwood blight late last month. The Mass. Department of Agricultural Resources collected samples and conducted tests on Boxwoods received from a Connecticut nursery known for having Boxwoods with blight, and sure enough some of the diseased specimens made it to the Bay State.

Boxwood blight was first identified by pathologists in the UK in the 1990's, and it is unknown how the disease made it to the U.S. Cases of Boxwood blight have been found in Connecticut, North Carolina, Virginia, and now Massachusetts.

Like other blight infections, Boxwood blight will appear with discoloration and black lesions on the foliage. This will ultimately lead to severe defoliation, which may not kill the tree, but will certainly make it undesirable.

Blight can spread quickly in areas densely populated with trees and shrubs; and is most commonly spread by rain water. Although well-managed nurseries are on top of this matter, please be careful of purchasing Boxwoods in the future.

Remember, it is always a good idea to have a Certified Arborist or Plant Health expert out to inspect your property once a year.

Read the release from the UMass Extension here.

boxwood blight UMASS

Image from UMass Extension - shows indicators of blight infection.

Forecasting 2012's Plant Health Care Problems

Planning ahead can help ensure your plants stay healthy and pest-free come spring time. Use historical knowledge and trends to preserve plant health in 2012.

Due to the variability of New England weather these days it is difficult to accurately forecast the future. However, one aspect that is predictable is that we will have a spring, but whether it begins in March or May is yet to be determined. With the arrival of spring comes the arrival of some pesky pests that devastate our trees and plants.winter moth damage

One pest that cannot be ignored is the Winter Moth (or winter worm). Winter Moth populations have exploded in recent years and don't look to be slowing down anytime soon. These moths, that fly around your exterior lights in the late fall, are damaging to your trees in their larval stage, when they feast on the leaves of your deciduous trees, primarily maples, lindens, and oaks.

Our Arborists recommend target winter moth treatments as a preventative measure. Depending on the weather in the spring, Winter Moths will start appearing any time in April and May - sooner with warmer weather, later with cooler weather.

Another pest to plan for this spring is the Hemlock Woolly Adelgid or HWA. Hemlocks are damaged by HWA when the eggs hatch and begin feeding on the tree's twigs. The Adelgid effectively suck the sap out of Hemlocks, severly stressing the tree which will slowly kill it over time.

Like the Winter Moth, our Arborists recommend a target preventative treatment for HWA. This pest has been increasing in recent years and can cause great damage to clustered Hemlocks. It is imperative to catch HWA early on before any damage is done

Take note of what has happened in the past few years and start planning your pest management and plant health care now. If this winter remains relatively mild, these pests may be damaging your plants sooner than usual. If you're looking for more information on our pest management and plant health care programs please take advantage of our free consultations and meet with a Certified Arborist.


tree health care

Winter Moths Flying Around Your Property? No Need to Worry...Yet!

Although they are not hungry for leaves like they are in the larval stage (Winter Worm), it is wise to take notice of Winter Moth volume this time of year.

The little moths that congregate around our exterior lights are actually the pesky, foliage chewing winter worms that devastate our trees in the spring and early summer while in the larval stage. Even though the moths are not a danger to our trees at this point, it is good to keep an eye out for an abundance of moths. It is safe to assume that if moth volume is very high, you may experience excessive damage from the caterpillar-form of these pests come spring time.

Winter Moths have become a nuissance across the North Shore and Greater Boston Area, defoliating a tremendous amount of deciduous trees in our region. During the late fall and early winter, the male winter moths will emerge from their summer vacation spot (the ground) as moths and fly around as long as weather permits. The females, who have no wings, emerge from the ground at the same time and crawl up trees to lay their eggs. These are the eggs that will hatch next spring, producing an army of foliage eating winter worms.

With winter worm damage being so extensive in the past few years we encourage homeowners to sign up for Target Winter Moth Treatments. A target treatment done in the early spring will mitigate your winter moth risk, and is highly recommended if you've experienced damage in the past, or are seeing an abundance of moths flying around now.

If you're concerned about winter worm damage, please request a free consultation with one of our Certified Arborists. Signing up for a preventative pest management treatment or program this winter can also help you save money, as we provide a 10% discount for early signups.

Pest Management Consultation

severe winter worm damage

Without preventative treatments, winter worm damage can be severe, effectively defoliating an entire tree or group of trees.

Plan 2012 Pest Management Now, Save 10%

As 2011 is winding down, it is time to plan your 2012 pest management programs and save money while doing so!

Carpenter Costin offers one of the most comprehensive pest management departments around. Our state of the art equipment, experienced technicians, and diverse solutions combine to create an extremely effective pest management division which allows us to provide both preventative and reactionary treatments for a wide range of insect and disease problems. We are experts at pest management for your shrubs, trees, lawns, and plants.pest management consultation

We are also proud to offer a 10% discount for pre-payment on pest management services, meaning when you sign up for your pest management between December 1st and March 31st, you can receive a 10% discount. If you have had a history of insect or disease infestation, be it Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Winter moth, Anthracnose, or anything other pest, we recommend preventative treatments, which can be booked now at a 10% discount. Not only can you save your trees, shrubs, and lawn from nasty pests, but you can save some money while doing so. The 10% discount can be applied to one time Target Treatments, as well as Multi-Visit Treatment Programs.

If you're unsure of what exactly it is that you need, but think you have pest problems, take advantage of our free consultations and meet with an experienced pest pro. Don't wait until it is too late. Planning your pest management now will help you save!



Plan Now for Next Year's Pest Management

Don't be caught trying to combat insects and diseases with reactionary measures. Plan your technical programs now for effective preventative treatments next year.

Each spring, the phones at our headquarters in Swampscott ring off the the hook with local homeowners mentioning that "something is eating their trees." Some of these callers were plant health care technicianadvised to implement a pest management program earlier in the year, but decided against it only to be infested with pests come spring time. Luckily for the callers, our plant health care division provides effective reactionary pest management solutions; however, they highly recommend signing up for the more effective, and less costly, preventative treatments prior to the beginning of the growing season.

Our preventative programs are tailored to suit your property, and range from one-time target treatments, to five and eight visit programs for complete pest management and plant health coverage. These treatments prevent infestation from the insects and diseases trying tirelessly to eat your foliage, damage your trees, and ruin your turf.

Whether your property has been affected by insects such as the Winter Moth, Lace Bug, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, and Fall Web Worm; or plagued by Tip Blight, Anthracnose, Powdery Mildew, and Apple Scab; our plant health care pros can provide the treatment you need. Request a free consultation now with a Carpenter Costin professional to discuss your pest management needs and wants. You'll be thanking us next spring when your property is pest free!




Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Infestation in the Fall

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid Can Be a Serious Threat to Tree Health

hemlock-woolly-adelgidHemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA) are tiny, aphid-like insects that feed on Eastern Hemlocks ravenously through the late fall and winter. They lay in a dormant stage most of the growing season, but usually return to their feeding habits by mid-October. For detailed information on the HWA, please view our insect & disease glossary.

Preventing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid (HWA)

In order to prevent Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, our Certified Arborists recommend topical applications or injection treatments of horticultural oil. Regular fertilization and pruning is also recommended in order to prevent these pests from infesting your Hemlocks. It is best to utilize spring, summer, and fall horticultural oil treatments in order to prevent Hemlock Woolly Adelgid.

HWA injection treatmentIf you happen to notice white cottony egg masses on your Hemlocks, then it is likely that you have an HWA infestation. Call a Certified Arborist immediately. HWA infestation can be devastating.

Be sure to keep an eye on your Hemlocks for any signs of infestation. Keeping your trees healthy with regular fertilization and pruning will help ward of HWA, but horticultural treatments are recommended as HWA has been so bad in recent years. To learn more about HWA, or to have an Insect & Disease specialist out for a free consultation call 877-308-8733 or click the button below.


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