Summer Tips to Nurture Nature in Your Own Backyard
For Immediate Release
For Further Information Contact Sonia Garth:
(217) 355-9411 Ext 217
Summer Tips to Nurture Nature in Your Own Backyard
CHAMPAIGN, IL- Is something bugging you? More
importantly, with summer approaching, is something bugging your trees? If you
don’t know, it’s time to find out - take a look around your yard because insects
and disease can seriously harm trees and plants.
"Having trees at home can bring a touch of nature to any yard, but homeowners
need to know that sometimes nature has to be protected from itself," said Jim
Skiera, Executive Director of the International Society of
Arboriculture (ISA). "A hostile environment and the presence of insects and
disease can seriously harm trees and plants."
Trees and other landscape plants need light, water, and nutrients, but too
much or too little of any of these resources can cause plant stress. Severe
stress can weaken a tree’s resistance to diseases and insects.
Preventing Insects and Disease
"Prevention is about being observant," said John Lloyd, assistant professor
of arboriculture at the University of Idaho.
What should you look for? Early symptoms of problems usually appear in the
spring. Dying branches in the upper part of the canopy (called dieback),
yellowing, and flagging can be symptoms of
diseases and environmental stress, while leaf drop or leaf
spots are common symptoms of foliar disease.
What should you do if you notice problems? Lloyd says the best first course
of action is to tend to the obvious. Trees in overly dry areas should be
watered. Compacted soil should be nourished with organic mulch to reduce the
soil’s bulk density and to provide slow-release nutrients to surrounding trees.
"Knowledge of the tree’s history can also be an important tool in fighting
disease," Lloyd said. For example, if a tree has a history of foliar disease,
preventative sprays can be applied to reduce the chances of disease recurrence.
Homeowners can also benefit from plant healthcare plans, where professionals do
on-site inspections to ensure tree and plant health.
Tree diseases are caused by infectious or living organisms such as fungi,
viruses, and bacteria. Disorders, which can exhibit disease-like symptoms, are
caused by noninfectious or nonliving agents such as nutrient deficiencies,
temperature extremes, vandalism, or pollutants.
Diseases develop when:
-- A pathogen is present (disease-causing agent).
-- A plant is vulnerable to that particular pathogen.
-- The environment is conducive to disease development.
Often considered a "secondary problem" to environmental stress, insects can
retard plant growth, weaken tree structure, and spread plant diseases by feeding
-- Chewing insects, like beetles and caterpillars, eat leaves,
flowers, and twigs. Discoloration and uneven or broken edges are signs that
chewing insects might be present.
-- Sucking insects, like aphids and mealybugs, feed on sap within the
plant. Damage is indicated by the discoloration, drooping, and wilting of
leaves, and the presence of honeydew.
-- Boring insects, like bark beetles, feed beneath the bark of the
tree as larvae. Most borers are attracted to, and successfully attack, stressed
While some insects can threaten tree health, many are helpful and actually
rid trees of dangerous or harmful insects.
"Just because you find an insect on a plant does not mean that’s the one
causing the damage," said Fred Miller, Joliet Junior College in Joliet, IL. "For example, many people think the lady bird beetle is
harmful, but they actually eat aphids, which are the insects that really harm
trees and plants."
Diagnosis and Treatment
Correct diagnosis of plant health problems requires careful examination of
the situation. The ISA offers these tips to aid in your assessment:
-- Accurately identify the plant. Insects and disease are plant-specific,
limiting the number of suspected pests.
-- Look for a pattern of abnormality. Compare the affected plant with others
on the site, especially those of the same species.
-- Carefully examine the landscape. The history of the property and the
adjacent land may reveal many problems.
-- Examine the roots. Note their color. Brown or black roots may signal
-- Check the trunk and branches. Wounds in the trunk can provide entrances
for pathogens and wood-rotting organisms.
-- Note the position and appearance of affected leaves. Dead leaves at the
top of the tree are usually the result of environmental or mechanical root
stress. Twisted or curled leaves may indicate viral infection, insect feeding,
or exposure to herbicides.
Treatment depends on the particular insect or disease problem, the species of
plant or tree affected, the extent of the problem, factors specific to the
environment, and local regulations. Homeowners who have doubts about how to
proceed should consult a tree care professional for advice.
The International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a nonprofit organization supporting
tree care research around the world. Headquartered in Champaign, Ill., ISA is dedicated to the care and
preservation of shade and ornamental trees. For more information, contact a local ISA Certified Arborist