Trees and shrubs take years, or even decades, to grow. Unfortunately, they can be hit with a disease or insect problem and die within a season. That’s why it’s important to make the most of a landscaping service that can help protect your plants with the best in organic tree and shrub care.
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This insect bores hundreds of pin-size holes inside tree bodies and feeds on the bark surface. This usually causes dieback in the canopy and suckering at the base of the tree. The external signs are piles of white boring dust surrounding the host plant’s surface area. The term “ambrosia” stems from a fungal growth the beetles carry into the host plant upon entry. The fungus creates a black and gray stain surrounding the tunnel surface areas. This fungus then serves as food for the larvae and adults. Extreme damage will occur from a single infestation, with irreparable consequences to the host plant. Many diseases are caused by fungi that are capable of infecting stems, branches, leaves, and fruits of a wide variety of deciduous trees and shrubs. Symptoms vary according to the plant part and the host attacked. Leaf infections may show necrotic spots, irregular dead blotches, or necrotic lesions associated with large leaf veins. Infections on new shoots may kill them entirely or cause severe tissue distortion. Defoliation may occur early in the season, followed by a second growth of leaves in early summer. Cankers form on the branches as a result of the death of the buds and twigs. Spores from these fallen leaves re-infect the new leaves the following year. There are many species of aphid which are sometimes called plant lice and are found in gardens, trees and shrubs. These insects are about 1/4 of an inch in length ranging in color from green to yellow, red, grayish white, or brown. They are frequently found in large clusters on leaves or stems of new plant growth. Aphids suck beneficial material and water from the host causing discoloration on the upper leaf called Black Sooty Mold. The common bagworm is a very interesting caterpillar. The most frequently observed form of this pest is the spindle-shaped silk bag camouflaged with bits of foliage, bark, and other debris. Completed bags range from 1 ½ to 2 ½ inches long, and often go unnoticed until damage begins to become evident on the host plant. The larva within the bag is brown or tan, mottled with black, and the bee-like adult males have clear wings and fur covered bodies. The females remain larva-like and do not emerge from the bag. Bagworms have a single generation per year and overwinter as eggs inside the female’s bag. There may be 300-1000 eggs in each bag. As they hatch in summer, the small blackish larvae crawl out the bottom of the bag and spin down on a strand of silk. These larvae on a string are often picked up by the wind and ballooned to nearby plants. This fungus disease generates serious problems for Leyland Cypress trees in drought-stricken areas. A canker is a definite, localized, usually dry, dead, often discolored, sunken or cracked area surrounded by living tissue. Cankers form on stems, branches, and in branch axils, causing dieback of shoots. Twig dieback has also been observed with a gray discoloration at the point of infection. Diagnostic features include resin oozing from cracks in the bark, brown to purplish patched on the bark, and yellow to brown discoloration of foliage above the canker. Spores are washed down the tree or splashed from tree by rain or overhead irrigation. New infections develop when spores lodge in bark cracks and wounds. In this very destructive and highly infectious disease, leaves infected by fire blight first appear to be water-soaked, and then shrivel, turning dark brown or black as though scorched by fire. Infections usually occur scattered throughout the crown of the tree or shrub, healthy stems often growing next to infected ones. During warm or humid weather, bacteria may be carried to the host plant by rain splash or summer hailstorms. The bacteria usually enter the plant through the open flowers, but infection may also take place through stem injuries. Fire blight attacks blossoms, leaves, shoots, branches, and roots. Once established in the tree, fire blight quickly invades through the current season’s growth into older growth. These beetles emerge in late spring to early summer and often seriously defoliate garden plants, trees and all grass types. Adult Japanese Beetles are 3/8 inches long with green and brown wings and usually feed in large groups. Japanese Beetles have a life cycle of about 30-45 days and are concentrated over a six week period. In the spring, grass dies in large irregular bare patches that can be completely rolled up by hand like a carpet uncovering C-shaped white grubs. They prefer plants exposed directly to sunlight and feed on plant tissue between the leaf veins. Heavy infestation often attracts birds, squirrels and moles, which make holes or tunnels in the grass to feed on the grubs. These bugs are found on many ornamental trees and shrubs and attack a broad range of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. They often go undetected until the infested plants have been severely damaged. Both adults and nymphs have piercing mouthparts that they use to suck and remove sap as they feed from the underside of the leaf. The damage caused by lace bugs to the foliage of trees and shrubs detracts greatly from the plants beauty, reduces the plants ability to produce food, reduces the plants vigor and causes the plant to be more susceptible to damage by other insects, diseases or unfavorable weather conditions. Repeated, heavy infestations of lace bugs either directly or indirectly can cause plant death. A term used to describe the larvae of many different species of insects that live in and eat the leaf tissue of plants. As adults, the most common form of leaf miners are small wasps or flies. Female leaf miners deposit eggs within the leaf tissue of many broadleaf evergreens and deciduous trees. When the larvae hatch from the eggs, they are able to begin feeding on most internal leaf tissues within a few days. It only takes three weeks for an egg to hatch, mature into an adult and cause heavy widespread damage to the host plant. The fungi that causes leaf spotting are usually spread by microscopic spores. The disease will vary by plant species, often resulting in irregular tan or brown areas on the leaves, especially along major veins of the leaf blade. This condition usually prefers new growth in damp or cool places, and emerges in late spring to early summer. The infected leaves eventually turn yellow and fall to the ground, re-infecting new growth in the following season if not removed. Voracious feeders, and where abundant, quickly strip trees of their foliage. Defoliation takes place in late summer to fall, with young larvae eating all the way through the leaves. Young larvae feed in groups, and cause a skeleton look on the leaf surface. Eventually, the insect will consume all but the main veins, and will usually defoliate one branch before moving onto another. Older larvae are less gregarious and can be found crawling on lawns and the sides of houses. Mature oakworms are about one inch in length and are best identified by the dark strips running down the length of their bodies. The adult worms evolve into moths at full live stage. Fungi are found on many Georgia native trees, ornamental shrubs and turf grass species. The mildew spores grow over leaf surfaces or other infected plant areas leaving a “powdery” appearance - hence the name powdery mildew. The fungus favors humid conditions and plants without proper spacing are especially susceptible. To avoid re-infection and new growth, remove affected fallen leaves, prune out old growth and avoid close planting. The mildew can be managed with preventative fungicide applications before the spores become established. This occurs when plants are over-watered or are planted in landscape areas that retain or hold water. Newly planted trees and shrubs are often over-watered, causing root suffocation and drowning. Heavy soils and containers that lack adequate drainage holes will often be associated with this problem. Plants with root rot will begin to lose color, wither, and wilt. If root rot is suspected, remove the plant from its container or planting bed if possible and examine the root system for indications. Affected roots are black with a swampy smell to the root ball area. Several fungal pathogens are also capable of causing significant losses in the production of flowering potted plants. These fungi may cause the death of seedlings before or just after emergence from the potting mix, or they may cause rotting of roots of mature plants. The initial symptoms of rust are yellow spots on the leaf surface. The spots develop into oval- or elongated reddish-brown powdery and elevated lesions that contain a powdery mass of orange to reddish-brown spores on the upper and lower leaf surface. The spores become brownish-black when they mature, creating abundant damage. The disease spreads rapidly over the leaf, causing it to wither and die. In order to avoid excessive moisture and prevent rust, proper fertilization will keep the nitrogen levels correct and will also help to reduce the appearance of this disease. Insects are often mistaken for fungal disease because many cluster together, resembling a crusty or fuzzy mass that often oozes when rubbed. Scale gets its name from the protective fish-scale-like covering produced by a tiny insect about the size of a pencil tip. This covering protects the scale and makes controlling it difficult. Scale insects anchor to plant parts by their piercing-sucking mouthparts, which they use to feed on plant sap. Individual scales may look like oval- or rod-shaped bumps, ranging in color from white to yellow, brown to black. These insects can be a major problem on many trees and shrubs. A heavily infested plant will have extensive leaf yellowing, premature leaf drop, and possibly branch dieback. A charcoal-colored fungus that appears as a gray or black coating on the surface of leaves, this fungus does not actually feed on the leaves; it colonizes on a sticky, shiny excretion called honeydew. The honeydew drops from the insects that feed on the host plant, creating fungal strands that cover the plant tissue and cause the leaf discoloration. A heavy coat of black mold may build up on needles and twigs over more than one growing season. Shrubs under trees that are heavily infested with honeydew-producing insects may be seriously damaged or killed because the leaf chlorophyll cannot function properly under the thick layer of sooty mold that develops on the leaf surface. Mites are not insects but are more closely related to spiders. They are very small and not easily seen with the naked eye. The bodies of spider mites are small with no distinct segments. The most common spider mite is the two-spotted spider mite, which is found on numerous host plants. Spider mites are oval-shaped and have eight legs, with mouthparts designed specifically for puncturing leaf surfaces. The first obvious sign of spider mite infestation is stippling on the upper surface of the leaves. This looks like the leaves have been pierced with many tiny needles. The mites quickly populate their hosts, and some spin visible webs on which they walk and lay eggs. Individual silk strands can be seen on the underside of leaves with the aid of a magnifying glass. The eastern tent caterpillar is easily identified when it builds its white silk nest in the crotch of small trees or where several limbs meet on larger trees. Tiny egg masses are attached to small twigs and appear as a shiny dark gray foam, wrapped around the twig. These masses are about one inch long and contain 150 to 350 eggs. The eggs hatch in early spring just as the leaf buds begin to show green, and the larvae will create the nest. These nest or tents serve as a refuge for the larvae during the evening hours and during rainy weather conditions. Eastern caterpillars have thick, tan hair and are black in color with irregular blue and white mottling. Adult caterpillars can reach 1 1/2 inches in length emerging about the time leaves unfold in the spring and may feed at first on opening buds. In May and June, the caterpillar will consume and defoliate of all larger veins and petioles of the leaf. Conifer tip blight is a progressive fungus that results in the dying back of twigs and branches. The new growth of needled evergreens is most susceptible to this disease, while trees or hedges more than five years old are less seriously damaged. Blight symptoms first show up on recent growth of the lower branches, primarily on the juniper species. Dieback begins with reddish-brown shoot tips and then progresses back towards the main stem. Infected twigs and branches should be pruned out to create air ventilation and to provide proper plant spacing. This will help reduce high moisture conditions, minimizing the spread of the disease. Sap-feeding insects about 2mm long. Adults white flies have white milky wings. Immature whiteflies attach themselves to the underside of the leaf’s surface and readily fly up when the plant is disturbed. White Flies often congregate in large numbers and excrete sticky sugary honeydew which covers the leaf with a black mold.