Identifying Common Fall Tree Insects (Pests)

Identifying Common Fall Tree Insects (Pests)

Creepy webs in trees, chewed up leaves or dying tree branches are surely not what you pictured in your charming fall landscape.

If you see something odd on your tree, find out what the problem is now. Browse the symptoms below to figure out what fall pest may be plaguing your tree and how you can stop it. 




Symptoms of the Most Common Fall Tree Insects

Symptoms: “Spider” webs on the ends of tree branches and leaf loss in late summer or early fall

 • What insect is damaging my tree: Fall webworms, the tree nesters

 • What do fall webworms do: They spin silky, solid webs on the ends of tree branches then feed on leaves from inside the netting.

 • Most common tree victims of fall webworms: Wild cherry, black walnut, mulberry, sweetgum, pecan and persimmon

 • How to control fall webworms: Physically remove the webs, and treat your tree with an insecticide.

 • When to control fall webworms: Remove the webs as you spot them in fall, then follow up with an insecticide next spring.


 Symptoms: Silky “webs” in trees, chewed leaves, mild to severe leaf loss and branch  death with no regrowth on evergreens

 • What insect is damaging my tree: The burrowed bagworm

 • What do bagworms do: They weave protective bags of silk and debris to hide. Then, they consume tree leaves and needles.

 • Most common tree victims of bagworms: Juniper, arborvitae, cedar, spruce, honeylocust, linden, willow, maple, oak, birch,  elm and  poplar

 • How to control bagworms: Handpick and destroy all bags. Talk to your arborist about an insecticide treatment if there are too  many to  pick.

 • When to treat bagworms: Remove and destroy bags as soon as you spot an infestation. 


Symptoms: Browning leaves with crunchy edges and itchy red spots on your skin

• What insect is damaging my tree: A biting oak mite 

• What do oak mites do: They feed on the larvae of other tree pests cooped up in your tree. Some oak mites may then fall off trees and use people as a host. Most commonly, these are found in Northeast Ohio and the Midwest.

• Most common tree victims of oak mites: All species of oak trees, particularly pin oak

• How to control oak mites: Wash your body after being under a suspecting oak tree since these mites don’t bite immediately. Then, talk to your local arborist about treatment.

• When to treat for oak mites: Be sure to clean off after some time under an oak tree to protect yourself.


Symptoms: Needle loss on conifer trees, yellow-spotted tree needles, premature needle drop

• What insect is damaging my tree: The sap-loving spruce spider mite

• What do spruce spider mites do: They feed on sap from tree needles and leave behind small, silk webs.

• Most common tree victims of spruce spider mites: Arborvitae, fir, hemlock, juniper and spruce

• How to control spruce spider mites: Reduce the population of these pests with dormant oil.

• When to get rid of spider mites: Treat in fall to rid your tree of mites before winter.


Symptoms: Twig and branch death, premature leaf and flower loss, a sticky substance on  leaves and branches, and black, sooty mold

 • What insect is damaging my tree: The massive magnolia scale

 • What does magnolia scale do: These large scale insects suck plant sap and produce a sugary substance called honeydew.

 • Most common tree victims of magnolia scale: As their name suggests, they only feed on magnolia trees.

 • How to control magnolia scale: Your arborist can recommend an insecticide treatment to get rid of this soft scale insect.

 • When to treat for magnolia scale: Apply treatment before the winter season rolls in.  


Symptoms: Small yellow bumps under tree leaves, mild leaf loss, severe or complete leaf  loss on small and young trees

 • What insect is damaging my tree: The not-so-pretty pink-striped oakworm moths

 • What do oakworm moths do: The moths love to feed on any and all oak leaves.

 • Most common tree victims of oakworm moths: Any oak species, maple, birch and hazel

 • How to treat oakworm moths: The yellow bumps found under tree leaves are the moth’s eggs. Pick (or prune) those off. If damage has  already occurred, your tree will need an insecticide treatment.

 • When to control oakworm moths: Treat in early fall.

See any of the above tree pest signs? Ask your local arborist to inspect your trees—for free.

  • The Tree Doctor September 30, 2016 >Hi Rita. First off, congrats on your move! Hmm.. From the information you provided, it sounds like it could be carpenter ants, which leave sawdust at the base of a tree. Or perhaps a woodpecker. Without seeing the tree in person, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what is happening. Your best bet is to reach out to a certified arborist in your new area. They can tell you what type of tree you have -and identify what is causing the holes in the trunk. Unfortunately, Davey Tree doesn't provide residential tree care in your neck of the woods. Here if you have any more questions. Wishing you and your trees all the best!
  • The Tree Doctor September 30, 2016 >Hi Katharine. Interesting question. And yes, we feel the same way. It's alarming - and upsetting - to walk through your community and see dead trees. If we had to guess, EAB and Dutch Elm disease might be causing the uptick of dying trees in your area. Though, it's hard to say definitively without knowing what types of trees you're seeing. That's why it's more important than ever that we as homeowners and community members advocate for the care of our trees. Also, this article may be of interest to you: Here if you have any follow-up questions, Katharine.
  • Rita Koehn September 30, 2016 >The bark is falling off and the trunk of the tree looks like it is being chewed or mulched up. There are holes in the trunk. What causes this? We just moved here from Washington and I don't know what kind of tree it is. The tree is an older tree and very large. The top part looks very healthy. What can I do to help it?
  • Katharine Brenner September 29, 2016 >I seem to be noticing more dead trees in my community. Have you noticed this too? How many trees are dying every year compared to other year averages? It is alarming to me to see so many dead trees in the last couple years. Am I imagining things , or is this true?
  • The Tree Doctor September 26, 2016 >Hi Mike. Glad you reached out to us about this. There could be two reasons your cherry tree is leaking sap. First, do you see any holes or what looks like sawdust near the sap? If so, your problem may be the peachtree borer. The other main reason cherry trees leak sap is because they're stressed due to planting depth, location, drought or the environment. To get an official diagnosis, schedule a free consultation with your local arborist. Give them a ring at 970.682.7991 or connect online here: Here if there's anything else I can do to help, Mike!
  • Mike Felicetti September 22, 2016 >I have semi hard round sap leaking from my Cherry tree. It is only on the south side of the tree. Tree hasn't produced cherries in two years. Thanks.
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