Common Tree Pests and Diseases to Look Out For This Spring

Common Tree Pests and Diseases to Look Out For This Spring

Ah springtime. The musical bird chirps. The newly sprouted plants blowing in the seasonal breeze.

And, the pesky insects that have it out for our trees.

After a long winter, some trees may be weak from stressful weather elements. Vulnerable trees invite unwanted pests and diseases.

But that’s no reason for you to stress out. Proactive care can keep your trees strong through the growing season. Below we answer questions you may have about common pests and diseases.

 Why are my tree’s leaves turning brown?

If you see leaves browning at the veins just as they begin to bud, anthracnose could be the culprit. You’ll probably notice brown dots and yellow blotches, too. The fungal disease thrives in cool, wet spring weather.

Look to these tree care practices to defend against anthracnose. Trees with premature leaf drop may need a fungicide treatment from a certified arborist.

What is this sticky substance on my tree’s leaves?

Carbohydrates in plant sap and tree leaves and stems are the perfect treat for hungry aphids. After eating away at trees, they leave behind sticky, sugary syrup called honeydew, curl trees’ leaves and attract the sooty black mold fungi.

Several types of aphids affect different regions, so the most effective treatment is one tailored to your tree’s needs. Ask your local arborist about options for your area.

What are other common tree pests to look out for in spring?

Aphids aren’t the only pests that plague trees with honeydew and sooty mold. Scale insects are a smaller—and more detrimental—pest with the same territorial mark. Beyond their mold, you can actually see the scale insects! They clump together to create colorful, spots on bark, leaves twigs and needles. A large presence of scale insects causes tree decline.

Prevent those persistent scale insects in the last few weeks of winter. Applying dormant oil now stops the pests before spring. If the problem continues, an insecticide treatment may be needed later in the season.

Schedule a consultation with your local office for management options that will meet your plant’s needs.


  • The Tree Doctor April 4, 2018 >Hi Kay. Young trees sometimes develop cracks for a variety of reasons depending on how they were grown, planted, and the local environmental present. The hole may or may not be related to an insect or disease. If the tree has shown good growth and appears healthy since it was planted, small cracks will often seal up as the trunk continues to enlarge. However, if the crack is deep and associated with an extensive area of dead tissue, the tree may have difficulty dealing with the issue. I suggest contacting a certified arborist in your area. He or she will be able to take a look at the tree and provide a more detailed diagnosis along with management options. Unfortunately, Davey does not service your area based on the zip code you provided. Here is a resource that will be helpful for hiring a certified arborist from a reputable tree service in your area: Hopefully, this helps! Here if you have any more questions.
  • Kay Rothschild April 4, 2018 >The pin oak we planted about 3 years ago has a place the bark is split with a small hole open. I do not know what the pest might be or the treatment. Any suggestions?
  • Palm Harbor Tree Removal June 20, 2017 >As an Arborist myself I'd have to say the best part about this article is that it's very descriptive. Lots of times I have clients who have no idea what something is on their tree so they can't even google it. Very helpful article, great work.
  • The Tree Doctor April 20, 2017 >Hi Richard! So sorry to hear about your woodpecker damage. Adult woodpeckers tap on wood siding to announce their territories. They also do this if there are carpenter bees burrowed in the wood. And as you suspected, these birds are protected under the Migratory Bird Act and usually cannot be harmed or captured without a permit. Some states fine up to $40,000 per bird. Instead, you could try contacting a local wildlife management company to discuss other options. Or, to deter the woodpeckers, try hanging a couple of fake owls or bird repellency noisemakers near the areas they're pecking at on your home. Then, to protect your tree from the woodpeckers, wrap the affected area with jute cloth or sackcloth. Hope this helps, Richard.
  • The Tree Doctor April 19, 2017 >Hi there, Kris! Thanks for reaching out to Davey Tree for help protecting your ash trees. I've passed along your request for emerald ash borer prevention to your local arborist. They should be reaching out to you soon! Or, if you'd prefer, you can call them directly at 563.726.0148 or connect online here: Talk more soon, Kris.
  • Richard Haehl April 19, 2017 >All of a sudden, we are having woodpecker damage. It started last summer, leaving several holes in our housing's cedar siding. Now, i am seeing 3 BABY woodpeckers that are adding chaos, pecking on our windows and starting to attack our cedar screened-in porch. I know they are endangered and can't be harmed, but can they be captured and relocated?
  • Kris Thielbert April 19, 2017 >Need emerald ash borer prevention, please!
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