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17 Jun 2016

Wintermoth caterpillar and other insect pests

So spring is here. Really?

We have had a very cool spring this year, unlike last year where at this time nearly all trees had leafed out. This has caused many of our typical insect pests, especially wintermoth, to be slow in emerging this spring.

Wintermoth has hatched in many areas, but has not been very noticeable to this point, but I have seen the fine webs around twigs and buds of cherry and blueberry in the past week. Once we get a few warm days, we can expect to see more trees break bud, and begin to see more insect activity.

Deer ticks and dog ticks are now active, so be sure to check yourself, your kids, and your pets if you are outside this weekend. I had to pull a tick off my son last weekend after doing our spring cleanup on Saturday. Some areas have reported mosquito activity already also.

Did you know that we can manage ticks and mosquitos at your property? If you live in an area prone to ticks or mosquitos, or if you are planning a big outdoor event like a party or a wedding, we can come to your property and treat for these pests. This will reduce your chances of coming into contact with these insects that carry Lyme disease or EEE or West Nile Virus. Call Mayer Tree if you would like to learn more.

Hopefully by my next blog post, I can talk about all the wonderful flowering trees. Happy Spring!

17 Jun 2016

Wintermoth on the move

If your house is covered with small pale moths near your porchlights at this time of year, then you have a wintermoth population.

The wintermoth, which so many of you know by the little green inchworm caterpillars that eat your trees in the springtime, is now in its “adult form”. They ended their pupation about 2 weeks ago, and are now mating. Pupation occurs from early June, when the larval caterpillars drop from the trees and bury themselves in the soil, until this time of year. The moth itself is not harmful to your landscape, but their conspicuous presence at night is unmistakable.

This is a time of year where a “”do-it-yourself”” control can have some impact; the female moth is flightless, and must walk up the tree trunk to lay her eggs. You can trap her and prevent her brood from becoming the springtime nuisance by applying an effective bug barrier on your susceptible trees. This is accomplished by creating a solid, impenetrable barrier encircling the tree trunk- there are a few commercially available products at your local garden center or hardware store. To make the barrier most effective, apply a sticky substance to the barrier so the moth cannot move. One commonly available product is called tanglefoot. I have also seen some people use duct tape effectively as well. You will need to check your sticky barrier regularly too- if populations are high enough, you may need to reapply your sticker as the moths accumulate.

This will not be the answer to all your problems if you have had a significant wintermoth population in the past, but may be able to reduce populations a little bit. Foliar sprays still offer the best value and control for most landscape situations, but also emerging are microinjections. While this type of treatment may cost a bit more, it offers you the opportunity to address the problem in the fall, providing a better level of control in the spring. This is a great option for clients that are sensitive to chemicals, or have sensitive landscape areas such as vegetable gardens or koi ponds.

One last thing to remember, if you are looking for do-it-yourself options, be sure to select a product labelled for control of caterpillars, or lepidoptera. I have seen many people buy the wrong products at a garden center- always read the label! Products like horticultural oil will not control caterpillars once they have hatched. If you need to consult an arborist, we at Mayer Tree are always available to assist you.

17 Jun 2016

Winter Plant Health Care update

Spring in Massachusetts is almost here! We are working on the last steps to get our renewals out to our existing clients, where you will have the opportunity to prepay your Plant Health Care program and save money. Be sure to watch your mailbox, and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you want to proceed with the recommended treatments for your landscape, please return the renewal to us in the enclosed envelope, or send us an email.

See you soon!

Jeff Bourque

17 Jun 2016

What is that growing on my tree?

I have heard that question a lot this year.

The answer is lichen, a fungal/algal growth that can be found growing on trees, rocks, sidewalks, roof shingles, and many other places that are relatively undisturbed.

Lichen does not root itself well, and can easily be displaced, which is probably why we don’t see it growing in more places. It likes an undisturbed environment, and does not tolerate pollution very well, which might explain why it grows ubandantly in a forest.

So why does it grow on my tree or roof? Well, it’s just a good place to grow.

Lichen does not cause any harm to your tree. It does not feed off the tree, not does it inject a toxin- it is purely a good anchorage point. I tend to see it more in shady areas- tree trunks, and rooftops that are under cover of tree limbs, as well as landscape rocks. Lichen is part fungus and part algae- while many lichens are a symbiotic relationship, some are saprophitic or parasitic.

I have also seen moss growing on trees as well. Like lichens, moss does not feed on the tree; however, there is the potential for large accumulations of moss to trap moisture against a tree, promoting decay or rot diseases. Moss is usually found in shady, damp areas of a property. Lately, moss has gained a lot of attention as a groundcover in the landscape- once it is established, it needs little to no maintenance, and lasts a long time.

If you are not sure of something that you find in your garden or see something weird growing on your trees, give us a ring!

Jeff

17 Jun 2016

Warm winter and tick season begins

It is now mid March, and temperatures will be in the 60’s for the next week or so. We have had very little snowfall this winter, temperatures were about 5 degrees warmer than average, and the ground never quite froze. Many people that enjoy ice fishing, snowmobiling, and skiing in Massachusetts were left with few options this winter.

What does this mean for the upcoming spring and summer? Many experts are predicting a heavy insect population this spring. When winter temperatures are normal or below normal, many overwintering insects will freeze and die, which helps to keep their populations in check. It was only about 6 years ago that we had a below normal winter that killed off an estimated 95% of our hemlock woolly adelgid population, and limited wintermoth populations as well. Pests that are at their northern edge of their temperature threshold, such as HWA and wintermoth, are very susceptible to extended freezing temps.

So this year has been well above normal, and we have been seeing crocuses, daffodils and other plants begin pushing through the ground for the past 2 weeks. Spring may come early this year, but never forget the April Fool’s day blizzard of 1997- anything can happen when you live in New England.

I also wanted to mention ticks. Since it has been so warm out, ticks have been very active. It seems that each time I walk through a clients property lately, when I get back into my car I am finding a deer tick walking on my lap or on my neck. Ticks are commonly found in wooded and brushy habitats, so if you are walking through any woody or grassy material that can brush up against your clothes, you may want to take precautions- wear a repellant with DEET, tuck your pants into your socks (no matter how bad it may look) and always tick check after. It takes 48 hours for a female tick to infect you with Lyme disease once bitten, so early detection is key.

If you are concerned with ticks at your property, consult your arborist at Mayer Tree Service. We can help by treating your property for seasonal control, or if you are planning an outdoor event we can treat the day before to keep your guests safe and comfortable. Works for mosquitoes too!

As for mosquito populations, that will be determined by our rainfall this spring more than by our winter conditions, so we will keep you posted!

Jeff

17 Jun 2016

Trees in Flower

Spring starts in 2 days, and I have seen Silver Maples and Red Maples beginning to flower in the Boston North Shore area. If you have a witch hazel, it is likely in full bloom now also. Looks like the warm temperatures will be short lived, as we get back to highs in the 40’s, and lows below freezing again.

If you haven’t already, this is a great time to get into your yard to start assessing your landscape needs, from cleanups to lawn maintenance to tree care programs and pruning. You can always contact us for more information if needed.

17 Jun 2016

Trees and Hurricanes

Hurricane Irene hit New England, and early reports are saying we could have winds up to and over 100 mph and upwards of 10 inches of rain, depending on where you live. So what should you do?

It is likely too late now to take any preventative steps toward protecting your trees from damaging winds, but we should be thinking about the future. Once we get past this storm, have a certified arborist from Mayer Tree Service stop by to inspect your trees- we are trained to spot defects and hazards that may not be apparent to the average homeowner. Knowing where potential problems are in your landscape, and addressing them in a timely fashion, could save you money, time, and a lot of frustration should a storm really hit the area hard.

In regards to Irene, we are expecting a high volume of calls during and after the storm. The phones have already been busy with municipalities looking to have us on alert. If you have an emergency, such as a tree went through your house or is posing an immediate threat to human life, we will prioritize those calls. If a tree has fallen in your backyard and is is not in the way of anything, then those calls will be answered and dealt with after the higher priority emergencies are resolved. We want to be sure that we can satisfy all of our valued clients, so we will address highest needs as they arise.

We apprecite your business, and hope that this storm does not hit us as hard as some have forcasted, but should you need us, don’t hesitate to call!

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17 Jun 2016

Tree Disease

So we had so much rain this spring my trees are going to do really well this year, right? Well, yes and no.

Trees that are susceptible to the common diseases will likely see an increase in disease activity this year.

Rain is good for our trees, however, with all the wet weather we had this spring, and with the cool temperatures, fungal diseases are thriving now. When new foliage first emerges from the bud, is is very prone to fungal attack as the leaf is soft and without a protective cuticle layer. At this point it is easy for a fungal spore to penetrate the leaf’s surface and begin an infection.

I have seen many diseases on deciduous trees this spring, including oak and dogwood anthracnose, scab and rust on apples and crabapples, leaf spot on birch, brown rot on cherry, and verticillium wilt on many Norway maples. Many evergreens are pushing out new growth now, and we will likely see lots of diplodia and ploioderma on hard pines, needlecast on spruce and fir, and phomopsis and other tip blights of juniper.

So what can I do now?

It may be too late to begin preventative fungicide treatments on deciduous trees, but treating evergreens now may be beneficial for this year. You should also consider overall tree health- keep the tree as vigorous as possible by treating with bio-stimulants and fertilization. Also, water your trees this summer when it becomes hot and dry to further reduce stress. At Mayer Tree Service, we are here to consult with you and make recommendations to promote the health of your landscape.

Jeff

17 Jun 2016

Why Your Tree Service Expert Recommends Tree Injection

Dealing with an insect infestation or plant disease in your yard requires patience, planning and the help of a professional. Many tree service experts recommend tree injection to address these types of problem efficiently and effectively. How do homeowners know when this process is necessary?

Understanding How Tree Injection Works

Tree service professionals use a special tool to insert pesticide directly into the tree with this method. The injection site is then sealed with septum to avoid leakage, which often leads to environmental problems and poor results. Quality tree injection methods treat the disease or pest problem quickly and for an extended period of time, moving through the tree’s vascular system and straight to the source of the problem.

Less pesticide is required for this method of tree care due to the direct delivery method. And the eco-conscious design prevents leakage and reduces the risk of additional environmental problems. Your tree service company determines the amount of product required based on the tree’s diameter. In most cases the injection site goes about 5/8″” to 1 5/8″” deep into the trunk and is effective when located near the tree base.

When Should You Invest in Tree Injection?

This type of plant care works very well against the Emerald Ash Borer, a particularly nasty problem in New England and other parts of the United States. Application times range from May to October allowing the pesticide to travel with naturally flowing nutrients and water. If treated during this time with a quality tree injection product your ash trees stand a much better chance of withstanding an Emerald Ash Borer attack.

Homeowners faced with an infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer can also take advantage of this method’s speed and potency. A tree service expert may be able to save your tree if tree injection is used soon enough and in the correct manner.