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(978) 768-6999
9 Scotts Way Essex, MA 01929
17 Jun 2016

Spring Update

With the warmer temperature’s, the insect activity in our landscapes have picked up. Wintermoth larvae are now 1-2 mm in length, still very small, but they are feeding and causing damage. I have seen heavy populations in Boxford, Manchester, Middleton, and Beverly. If you have not made arrangements for treatment, this would be a good time to call your arborist.

Other notable active pests observed: carpenter ants, mosquitos, ticks, and boxwood leafminer. Pine sawfly eggs are close to hatching as well, so watch your hard pines, such as mugo, red, Austrian, and scotch for these ravenous feeders.

Several evergreen trees and shrubs are still showing symptoms of winter damage. A certified arborist can help you assess the damage, and determine if they will recover.

Lastly, as you are preparing to lay down all that fresh new mulch- be careful not to put too much down at the base of your trees. I was recently at a property where the homeowner had applied too much over the past few years, and has trees that are dying. Too much mulch makes it difficult for a tree or shrub to get water and oxygen, which will stress them significantly and make secondary pests and pathogens more likely to target the tree. 1-2 inches at the base of the tree is sufficient, and 3-4 inches is acceptable away fron the tree’s trunk.

As always, the Certified Arborists at Mayer Tree Service are here for you!


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

Spring is Near!

March 14, 2011

Spring is around the corner, as I saw snowbells in bloom and crocuses poking through the ground. It officially starts Sunday the 20th. I know, finally!

This is a great time to be pruning your pome fruit trees, such as apple, crabapple, and pear, as the buds are beginning to swell. This will promote better flower and fruit if done now. When temperatures get a little warmer, a dormant oil can be applied.

I have heard that this should be a good year for wintermoth caterpillar. Winter was relatively mild in terms of temperature. Last year was not too bad in many areas due to a late April frost that killed a lot of larvae. Keep an eye out for the caterpillars as they hatch this spring and pry their way into the unopened buds- a hand lens will make this easier. If you have a horsechestnut nearby, their sticky buds act like flypaper, and will catch many larvae preventing them from getting into the bud, so a good tree to use to check early populations.

The daffodils are just around the corner, and the Plant Health Care trucks will be on the road soon!

Jeff Bourque

17 Jun 2016

Pine Sawfly

Today I encountered a heavily populated and damaged mugo pine in Gloucester. The photo shows just one group of Red Headed pine sawflies, but the plant has been defoliated by roughly 25% and the damage will likely continue until we receive a hard frost. The stem to the right side of the photo also leads me to believe that they were a significant problem last year, as there are no 2 year old needles on it.

There are sawflies of different species found on the hard pines throughout the growing season, from May until now, so always be on the lookout for these voracious and gregarious feeders. They can be managed in a few ways- if populations are small, they can easily be pruned out of the shrub. If populations are heavy, or you don’t want to put your fingers near them, they can be sprayed with a product that contains spinosid. If this is a persistent problem, consider replacing the shrub. If these pests are left to feed until the plant is defoliated, the plant will likely die, as evergreens generally do not recover when they are defoliated.


17 Jun 2016

PHC Blitz # 1- Tick Management

Ticks, like many mite species, are obligate blood-feeders, requiring a host animal forfood and development. Ticks have four stages in their life cycle: egg, the 6-legged larva (seed ticks), and 8-legged nymph and adult (male or female). Larvae and nymphs change to the next stage after digesting a blood meal by molting or shedding the cuticle. Most of the ticks mentioned in this handbook have a 3-host life cycle, whereas each of the three active stages feed on a different individual host animal, taking a single blood meal. Larvae feed to repletion on one animal, drop to the ground and molt to a nymph. The nymphs must fi nd and attach to another animal, engorge, drop to ground and molt to an adult. The adult tick feeds on a third animal. A replete or engorged (blood fi lled) female tick will produce a single large batch of eggs and then die. Depending upon the species of tick, egg mass deposited can range roughly from 1,000 to 18,000 eggs.

The blacklegged deer tick). Ixodes (pronounced x-zod-ease) scapularistransmits the causal agents of three diseases; Lyme disease, human babesiosis, and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA).

                          Adult Female – Adult Male – Nymph – Larva                                                          Comparison to the Dog Tick




Ticks do not jump, fly or drop from trees, but grasp passing hosts from the leaf litter, tips of grass, etc. Most ticks are probably picked up on the lower legs and then crawl up the body seeking a place to feed. Adult ticks will, however, seek a host (i.e., deer) in the shrub layer several feet above the ground, about or above the height of children.


Tick management strategies for the control of Ixodes scapularis. Personal Protection> Tick-bite prevention, tick checks, and tick removal. Landscape Management:> Vegetative modifi cations to render the environment less suitable for tick survival and for tick hosts.Management of Host Abundance> Exclusion of hosts by fencing, host reduction, and host  reduction by management of the host habitat. Host-targeted Acaricides> Treatment of white-footed mice, chipmunks or deer through passive topical application devices.Area Application Acaricides Spraying chemical insecticides to control ticks. Biological & Natural Control> Use of fungal pathogens and plant extracts as biopesticides to control ticks.


  • ØWiden woodland trails.
  • ØTrim tree branches and shrubs around the lawn edge to let in more sunlight.
  • ØCreate a 3-foot or wider wood chip, mulch, or gravel border between lawn and woods or stonewalls.
  • ØConsider a least-toxic pesticide application as a targeted barrier treatment.

Our Plant Health Care Department offers two choices for tick and mosquito control to the homeowner, business establishment, municiple sites, school playgrounds, parks & recreation.  

  1. 1.Tempo SC UltraThis is a pyrethroid insecticide.
  2. 2.TickOrganic Tick Control

Tick Free Organic Tick Control dissolves the insect egg and larvae eliminating the next generation of arthropod while the cedar aroma creates a barrier of entry making the treated area off limits to flying or crawling pests.  Cedar oil is a natural essential oil that provides a pheromone interruption agent that impars the insects mental capacity (fries their brain).  When combined with ethyl lactate, a raspberry bio-solvent it becomes instrumental in triggering instant erosion and dehydration of the insect’s exoskeleton and subsequently, the egg and larvae.  Exposure to a water solution spiked with cedar oil and ethyl lactate will destroy the egg and larvae stage, breaking the egg layer cycle and eliminating the next generation of insects.

“A man can’t be too careful in the choice of his enemies.” -Oscar Wilde

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!


17 Jun 2016

My Evergreen Tree Turned Brown….

It is now mid-April, and I have received several calls about evergreen trees, such as hemlock, pine, cypress, and spruce, that have turned brown over the winter.

While there could be a few different reasons for this, the primary culprit in most of these cases has been winter freeze injury. Most of the trees I have seen are located adjacent to driveways and roadways, and the damage had been caused by temperature fluctuations this winter. When we had warmer days, followed by cold nights, plant cells were damaged, and caused the dieback of the foliage facing the asphalt.

Other causes for browning could be desiccation injury (caused by cold winds) or salt damage (due to excessive de-icing salts). These types of injury can be prevented if this is a regular occurrence at your property. Consult your arborist at Mayer Tree Service to learn more about this.

So what do I do? Some of the damaged trees may recover partially or fully; others may be beyond repair. Unfortunately, there is little that can be done to prevent freeze injury. These trees that are now stressed due to this injury may benefit from bio-stimulant treatments and/or other remediation efforts. Before pruning out damaged sections, allow them to break bud- some of these trees may still have viable buds, which may replace some of the lost foliage.

If you have any other concerns about your landscape, we are here to help offer you with solutions. Contact us today for an appointment.

Jeff Bourque

17 Jun 2016

How Compost Tea Transforms Your Soil for Optimum Organic Plant Health Care

While experts agree that the chemistry of your soil plays an important role in organic plant health care, soil biology cannot be ignored. Compost tea enhances the biology of your soil and improves growing conditions for plants, trees and vegetables. Your local tree service company offers compost tea application that literally transforms the soil.

The More Microbes, the Better

Microbes exist in the soil and may become a source of plant disease and decay. Properly aerated compost tea adds more microbes to your soil, increasing diversity and helping to tip the balance between non-beneficial microbes and beneficial microbes.
This soil addition reduces the risk of plant disease and offers gardeners an alternative to chemical products and fertilizers. Compost tea is a simple, affordable way to add microbes to your soil.

Live Soil vs Sterile Soil

Treating your soil with chemicals may produce the desired results for a short period of time, but then reapplication is necessary. Chemical products affect long-term soil quality, eliminating diversity and leaving the ground sterile.
Synthetic plant nutrients are absorbed into the flowers, trees and shrubs quickly, but this process does not help plants to thrive over the long haul. Synthetic nutrients also leach out of the garden quicker than organics and carry a higher risk of damage with improper application.

On the other hand, compost tea contains active nutrients that improve the overall condition of your soil. Those improvements build over time and nutrient cycling results. Soil with healthy biology retains water properly and attracts native bugs and animals to maintain the balance of nature in your yard.

Remember to consider soil biology, as well as soil chemistry, when planning your plant care regime. Get better soil with compost tea, an organic plant health care tool that enhances growth and reduces the risk of disease.

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.