If your Bucks County property is especially rich in trees and topiary – mature white pines, perhaps, or maybe spruce or fir trees – chances are better than average that you’ve already put a fair amount of time and money into maintaining your investment. So what could possibly be worse than watching your trees being literally destroyed from the top down?
Unfortunately, that’s an all-too-common occurrence for property owners in Bucks County and a number of other regions in Eastern Pennsylvania, where a devilish little pest known as the white pine weevil attacks and subsequently kills the tops of trees each year.
Read more about How to Control White Pine Weevil with Soil Injections
A tree that has been treated for Emerald Ash Borer (right) compared to one that has not.
Unfortunately the time has come to make some tough calls about the trees on your property. The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has finally arrived in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The pest has been slowly making its way across the state, finally arriving when it was first discovered in an apartment complex in Warrington in 2012. Since then the EAB has been found in other area trees and parks (although it is believed to have not yet crossed the river into New Jersey). While many Ash trees in the Southeastern Pennsylvania may not yet be infected, it is only a matter of time. Unfortunately, Ash trees make up nearly 20 percent of the local tree population in Bucks County. Read more about The Emerald Ash Borer is Threatening Your Trees
The white pine weevil, one of the most destructive pests of the eastern white pine in Pennsylvania, kills the tops of many different types of conifers. Although it attacks mostly pines, it can also be found in spruce and fir trees. Several generations of this pest can severely reduce the aesthetic value of their host.
White pine weevils spend the winter as adults in dropped needles under or near host trees. As days warm up in March or April they will fly or crawl to the leaders of suitable hosts. They begin feeding on the bark of terminal leaders. Mating occurs on the bark of the tree through most of June. A single female may lay 100 or more eggs in pits on the bark of the previous year’s leader. After hatching, grubs tunnel downward under the bark. Adult beetles emerge from late June to early September. After emergence, the beetles fly to other areas.
Between the feeding and the egg laying, the top 18-24″ of the leader is usually killed. Severe infestation may result in the loss of 2-3 years of growth. Glistening drops of resin oozing from holes in the leader are the first signs of attack, caused by adult weevils that are feeding before egg-laying. As the terminal is girdled, the new shoot of the current year’s growth withers and the tip bends over and turns brown. This stage of damage usually becomes noticeable in July. These infested leaders should be pruned at a point below the tunneling grubs, making sure to either burn or secure them in plastic trash bags and remove them from the property. If left on site the weevils may continue to develop in the prunings.
The standard treatment for pine weevil is to spray insecticides such as permethrin, bifenthrin or cyfluthrin at different intervals, but timing of these spray treatments is critical. The first application, to the terminal leader, as well as the lower trunk of the tree, must be done right before the adults begin feeding and laying eggs. A second spray treatment should be done a few of weeks later to protect the terminal leader. Other applications to the leader during midsummer are often necessary to manage this insect during outbreaks.
As an alternative, a single systemic soil injection of Imidacloprid can be applied in the fall to avoid multiple spray applications throughout the season. This allows adequate time for the chemical to be taken up to the terminal leaders of the tree. This method of control uses less active ingredient of chemical overall and has a lower environmental risk. It also has a reduced impact on natural enemies of the weevil.
Singed brown edges on leaves of trees are called scorch. This can be caused by different types of stress such as drought, root growth restriction, compacted soil or even salt damage. Oak Wilt is a disease which also causes browning of the tree leaves. Bacterial Leaf Scorch (BLS) is a disease which infects Oak trees as well as Maples, Lindens, Elms and others, although it is more commonly found in Oaks, especially Red Oaks. Leafhoppers, spittle bugs and other Xylem feeding insects carry the bacteria from tree to tree.
Read more about The Importance of Early Detection of Bacterial Leaf Scorch
There’s nothing like enjoying your beautiful garden with the view of brightly colored butterflies flying around it. Not only are these little critters stunning to look at but they also help with pollinating your flowers. To attract butterflies you need to learn what plants to incorporate within your landscape design.
Our native landscape designer, Beverly Auvil shared with us her suggestions on how to attract butterflies to your yard:
Butterflies are attracted to “butterfly bushes” or the Buddleia davidii, so it’s natural that people buy these plants trying to bring more butterflies onto their property. Butterflies are attracted to these plants because they feed on the nectar, but the Buddleia is an exotic invasive plant. Exotic plants are species that evolved in different ecosystems and have few native predators and diseases. According to Michael Dirr, a professor of horticulture at the University of Georgia and expert on landscape trees and shrubs, both Buddleia alternifolia and Buddleia davidii are native to China.
The biggest problem with the Buddleia, or the butterfly bush, is that it is indeed invasive to Bucks County and surrounding areas. Since it is an exotic plant and has fewer predators and diseases, it can out- compete native plants, altering the balance in native habitats. It will produce seeds and the seeds will travel through birds, wind and other animals to additional locations. When an exotic, invasive plant invades our local ecosystem it takes the place of a native plant. When more and more exotic plants replace native plants on our properties and natural areas, our habitats begin to become compromised. This causes our indigenous butterflies and other wildlife to decline in population, or even become extinct.
To truly understand how to attract butterflies to your property, it’s important to also understand the life cycle of butterflies. Here is an example using the Monarch butterfly:
Read more about How to Attract Butterflies to Your Yard
As a resident in Bucks County, you are at a high risk for losing trees due to many different pests and diseases that we are prone to in our area. The loss of a tree can result in thousands of dollars in removal fees and a decreased property value. Peter Benz Landscaping uses ArborJet tree injections to prevent any damage from diseases and pests like the Emerald Ash Borer, the Woolly Adelgid and Oak Wilt.
What are the symptoms of an infected tree?
The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) is an invasive pest that attacks ash trees. If you have an infected ash tree on your property you may notice dead branches, thinning of the upper part of the tree and splitting bark. As of 2012, a total of 32 counties in Pennsylvania, including Bucks County, were infested with the EAB and the rest of the state was named a quarantine zone.
Read more about Preventive Tree Injections
The boxwood blight, also known as box blight or boxwood leaf drop, is a fungal disease of boxwoods that was first seen in the US in October 2011. It was initially discovered in North Carolina and Connecticut, but by early 2012 it had also been found in Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia. We have since noticed its appearance in the Bucks County Pa area.
So far it seems as though most commercial boxwoods, especially English and American, are highly susceptible to the disease, as is pachysandra, which is in the boxwood family. This disease doesn’t normally kill the host but causes significant defoliation and branch die-back. If boxwood blight is present your initial indication will be dark or light brown spots on leaves. The leaves will then turn brown or straw color and fall off. The stems of the boxwood will also develop black or dark brown lesions.
At Peter Benz Landscaping, we highly recommend that any new boxwood brought onto a property is quarantined for a least one month after leaving the nursery. Many nurseries are spraying boxwoods with preventive fungicides that can temporarily mask the symptoms of the disease. After 2 to 3 weeks the fungicides will wear off and the disease may cause a rapid decline in affected plants.
Read more about Boxwood Blight in Bucks County