As owners of our homes, sometimes we forget that we also own the rights and responsibilities that come
with caring for and maintaining the health within the environment around us. The best way to protect your
lawn, garden, trees, and home is to improve your knowledge about insects and diseases that may affect
them. Likewise in regards to trees specifically,
insects and diseases that cause localized problems can threaten the overall health of the tree and should
be identified and controlled as soon as discovered. This is important in preventing the insect infestation from spreading or leading to other problems. As soon as you notice any abnormality in your tree’s
appearance, you should begin a careful inspection and examination of the problem. Insect treatments are the next step in order to maintain or solve the problem.
By identifying specific traits and symptoms such as damage patterns and discoloration, or grown formations, you can
better identify their cause. Therefore, Properly diagnosing the problem is the first step to choosing the appropriate
treatment. Here at CC Tree Service our professional team members are able to help you diagnose and
treat these problems in a manner that best for the health of that tree, as well as the surrounding trees.
Due to the vast spatial footprint that most trees have, the possibility of disease transmission or insect
infestation from tree to tree is very high.
Potential problems and prevention:
Plant health plays a big role in initial disease and insect establishment in your trees. The healthier your trees are, the less prone they will be to infection. Good tree health can be acquired by providing sufficient
water, light and balanced nutrients as well as proper canopy trimming. By trimming your trees you
relieve weight from the peripheral canopy which allows the canopy to lift itself. This provides the
interior of the tree more air flow and light which will reduce humidity. The reduced humidity will help
with the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen as well as prevent fungal and bacterial colonization. By
trimming trees that are close to one another you also prevent shading and competition for water and
other nutrients. These are all ways of improving your trees’ health by reducing stress.
Correct diagnosis of plant health problems requires a careful examination of the situation due to the varying severity and possible sources. For diagnosing your problem, we advise following these tips in order to determine if your plant is unhealthy and if insect treatments can help.
Steps for diagnosis:
1. First, accurately identify the plant: Many insects and diseases are plant-specific. Knowing the specific
species and age of your plant helps limit the list of suspected diseases and disorders.
2. Secondly, Look for a pattern of abnormality: Furthermore, compare the affected plant with other plants on site, especially
those of the same species. Non-uniform damage patterns may indicate insects or diseases. Uniform
damage over a large area (perhaps across several plant species) usually indicates disorders caused by
such factors as physical injury, poor drainage, chemical damage, or weather.
3. Next, carefully examine the landscape: The history of the property and adjacent land may reveal many
problems. Most living pathogens take a relatively long time to spread throughout an area, so if a large
percentage of plants becomes affected virtually overnight, a pathogen or insect is probably not involved. Insects treatments may be detrimental if used when not needed because the chemicals would kill beneficial insects that help protect the plant as well.
4. When possible, the next best thing is to examine the roots: Brown- or black-colored roots may signal problems. Brown roots often indicate dry
soil conditions or the presence of toxic chemicals. Black roots usually reflect overly wet soil or the
presence of root-rotting organisms.
5. Finally, check the trunk and branches for damage: Wounds caused by weather, fire, mechanical damage, or animals can
provide entrances for pathogens and wood-rotting organisms. Large defects may indicate a potentially
6. Lastly, note the position and appearance of affected leaves: Dead leaves at the top of the tree are often the
result of environmental or mechanical root stress. Twisted or curled leaves may indicate viral infection,
insect feeding, or exposure to herbicides. The size and color of the foliage may also tell a great deal about
the plant’s condition. Furthermore, comparison with healthy specimens of the same species can also help indicate the severity of the problem and its origination.
Types of diseases:
For a disease to develop there must be a pathogen or disease causing agent, as well as a plant susceptibility to
that particular pathogen, and an environment suitable for the disease to develop. There are known to
be two different broad categories for diseases. The first category is infectious diseases, which means
they are transmittable from plant to plant and caused by microscopic living agents. Infectious agents of disease include fungi, protozoa, viruses, and bacteria. Non-
infectious diseases are most common in urban areas, and can be caused by factors such as compacted
soil, nutrient deficiencies, temperature extremes, vandalism, pollutants, and fluctuations in moisture.
The second category is non-infectious, which means they are non-transmittable diseases that are inherited or the result of non-living agents.
Most non-infectious diseases produce similar symptoms to that of infectious diseases making it difficult
to distinguish between the two and gain a proper diagnosis. But don’t worry, because our tree experts are here to help
Categories of insect pests:
Insect treatment is very specific due to the reproductive life cycles, and feeding methods of the insects
themselves. Most treatment methods are specialized for certain categories of insect or their life stages.
Some but not all insects can cause injury and damage to trees and shrubs so it is important to treat with
very specific treatment methods in order to preserve the lives of the beneficial insects. Most insect
problems are secondary to the problems brought in by other environmental stressors. It is always
important to diagnose and treat the underlying problems once the insect problem has been addressed. It is important to correct the underlying problem because, if left unfixed, it can promote reoccurring insect problems.
It is also important to remember that most insects are beneficial rather than harmful. They help
pollinate your trees and other plants as well as act as predators for other harmful species. Most harmful
insects can be divided into three different categories based on their feeding methods. These three
feeding methods are categorized as chewing, sucking and boring, and can be identified by their
characteristic patterns of damage.
Chewing insects reluctantly eat plant tissue such as leaves, flowers, buds, roots, and twigs. This is horrible for affected plants because it consequently strips the plant of its defense against disease pathogens. Damage by these insects
is often defined by uneven or broken margins on the leaves, skeletonization of the leaves, and leaf
mining. Chewing insects include beetle adults or larvae, moth larvae (caterpillars), and many other
groups of insects. The damage they cause (leaf notching, leaf mining, leaf skeletonizing, etc.) will help in
identifying the pest insect because each insect has very specialized mouth parts, which cause characterizable patterns.
Sucking insects insert their beak (proboscis) into the tissues of leaves, twigs, branches, flowers, or fruit
and then feed on the plant’s juices. Some examples of sucking insects are aphids, mealy bugs, thrips,
and leafhoppers. Damage caused by sucking insects is often easily recognized by its symptoms because of their unique markings. Symptoms that help identify sucking insects include discoloration, drooping, wilting,
leaf spots (stippling), honeydew, as well as a general lack of vitality in the affected plant.
Boring insects spend time feeding beneath the bark of a tree as larvae. Some borers kill twigs and
leaders when adults feed or when eggs hatch into larvae that bore into the stem and subsequently
develop into adults. Other borers, such as bark beetles, mate at or near the bark surface, and adults lay
eggs in tunnels beneath the bark.
Treatment methods used for a particular insect or disease is dependent on certain criteria. These criteria include the species involved, the
severity of the problem, climate (season), as well as other variables such as local regulation. Contact CC Tree
Service, your local Corpus Christi tree professionals if you have any questions or doubts about the health
of your trees or lawn. Visit us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CCTreeService with any questions or concerns regarding the nature of your problems and the available treatment options.