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Carpenter Costin Blog

Winter Moth Feeding Season is Over: Did Your Trees Survive?

The pesky Winter Moth should be done feasting on your leaves by now. Did they damage your trees, if so, what should you do?

It is that time of year again: Winter Moth damage is noticable on many trees across the region. The pesky pests have finished feeding and have entered the ground for the summer, and won’t be seen again until the fall when the males rise out of the ground with wings. This is a great time to get out in your yard and check for Winter Moth damage.

Winter Moth damage is pretty easily detectable, and if you notice damage there are a few things you should do. First, ensure that the damaged trees are receiving plenty of water. Despite the damage from Winter Moths, a tree will begin to put out new growth; therefore, it is important to ensure proper watering now and throughout the summer. This is also a great time to identify branches that have been killed by repeated defoliation as they will be bare and stick out like a sore thumb. Pruning the dead branches off is a good idea.

If your trees have been impacted by Winter Moths this year, it will be worth it to consult with a Certified Arborist and discuss preventative Winter Moth treatments for 2013.


winter worm damage

This maple tree had damage this severe throughout the entire tree. Watering this summer will help promote new growth, but preventative treatments should be put in place for next spring.


Check out our growing Insect Disease Glossary!

Treating Your Property for Deer Ticks

Keep your property safe, and consider a multi-step tick treatment program.

Deer ticks have become a hot-topic over the past few years as their population seems to increase every year, and cases of Lyme disease become more prevalent. To ensure your children and pets are safe from the dangerous deer tick nymph, considering signingRitzy tick treatment spray up for a tick treatment program.

Treating a property for ticks is not a one stop deal, however; a three step approach will likely get you the best bang for your buck. A multi-step approach with both perimeter spraying and lawn treatment will give you coverage in the spring, summer, and fall, and aim to kill ticks on your property and prevent them from entering your property on hosts such as deer, rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents.

Tick programs may not be necessary for every property, but if you live in a wooded area and experience a lot of animal traffic (deer, skunks, rodents, rabbits, etc.) you should really consider a tick treatment program to reduce the risk of tick bites and Lyme disease for your children and pets (and yourself). Click the button below for a free consultation with a pest management specialist.


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!



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 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.

Controlling and preventing Hemlock Woolly Adelgid 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.

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.


Controlling and Preventing Winter Moths

Winter Moths Can Be Controlled and Prevented

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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