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What’s Eating My Tree’s Leaves?

Trees are a large, important, and valuable component of your landscape and a big part of your enjoyment of your yard, especially in the summer. However, it’s not uncommon for trees to start showing signs of stress in the summer—not just from the weather but also because pest populations have built up from the spring and started wreaking havoc.

Pest problems are difficult to identify and often have been present for years prior to being diagnosed. That means quite a bit of damage can be done before the issue is recognized and a solution implemented.

While there are quite a few landscape insects that could be crashing the party in your yard, some are more common in our region than others. Are you finding yourself asking, “What is eating my tree leaves?” If so, here’s a look at 6 potential tree pests that just might be the culprits.

  1. Japanese Beetles

While it is a relatively small pest, the Japanese Beetle can be incredibly destructive. These pesky bugs are certainly not the wallflowers of the party and are rarely found on their own. Instead, they invite their friends to join in the feast by emitting pheromones that attract others of their kind.

As a matter of fact, Japanese Beetles are troublesome party crashers during the entire span of their life cycle. They start their lives in late summer in the form of grubs that munch on your lawn and ultimately become Japanese Beetles that feed on your trees and shrubs in the summer months.

2. Bagworms

True to its name, the bagworm is best recognized by the casing or “bag” that this pest forms from a combination of silk and pieces of the host tree’s foliage. This uninvited party guest will set up its sleeping quarters by suspending itself in the cone-like bag and hanging from your tree. Bagworm larvae injure plants rapidly by feeding on their needles and leaves.

3. Lace Bugs

At ⅛ inch long, the Lace Bug is small. But don’t let its diminutive size and pretty name fool you. This landscape plant insect literally sucks the life out of your tree. Using their piercing mouthpieces, Lace Bugs draw all of the nutrients from your tree or shrub’s leaves until the plant is eventually destroyed. The Lace Bug has clear wings with dark patches that resemble a lace pattern. Its eggs appear as black or brown dots on the underside of your tree’s leaves.

4. Aphids

Under a quarter-inch in size, aphids have pear-shaped bodies with long antennae and include a variety of species that range in color from white, black, or brown to gray and green. They tend to feed in groups and prefer new growth. Aphid damage can cause yellowing leaves, and you may also notice foliage or stems covered in a sticky substance—a sign that these unwelcome party guests have been chugging your tree’s sap.

5. Scale Insects

Another of the sap-feeding landscape plant insects group, scale insects use their piercing-sucking mouthparts to drain fluids from your plants. The result of scale insects in the landscape can be seen in yellowing or wilting leaves. As scale insects feed, they also excrete a sticky sweet substance called honeydew, which can make the plant first appear shiny and wet, then lead to black sooty mold growing on the sticky substance. The honeydew has the added effect of inviting even more unwelcome party guests (such as flies, ants, and bees) to join the festivities.

6. Spider Mites

Despite being categorized as arachnids instead of insects in the world of landscaping, spider mites are still considered pests that can cause significant damage by feeding on the contents of plant cells. Measuring less than 1/20-inch in length, they are the smallest pests and hardly visible to the naked eye. Due to their size, detecting spider mites can be challenging. You may first notice the effects of their feeding, such as stippled or yellowed leaves, before actually spotting the mites themselves. Additionally, they can leave minute webbing within foliage stems or needles.

Sunshine Lawn and Pest Pros take a proactive approach to tree and shrub care, offering a comprehensive program that can help prevent pest problems from occurring in the first place. Their team of professionals is equipped with the knowledge and expertise to identify and diagnose tree pest issues early on before they can cause significant damage.

In addition to their tree and shrub health care program, Sunshine Lawn and Pest Pros also offers a range of lawn care and pest control services to help keep your entire landscape healthy and thriving. Whether you’re dealing with weeds, disease, or unwanted pests, their team can provide targeted solutions to help you maintain a beautiful and healthy lawn and garden all year round.

If you’re experiencing issues with pests in your trees or elsewhere in your landscape, don’t wait to take action. Contact Sunshine Lawn and Pest Pros today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward a healthier, more beautiful outdoor space. With their help, you can keep those pesky party crashers at bay and enjoy your yard to the fullest all summer long.