Summer Tree and Pest Manual

Your Guide for Caring for Your Trees from June to September

Updated June 9, 2022

Summertime in the Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh/Durham, NC areas means barbecues, pool parties, and all sorts of other backyard activities. It’s also the perfect time to take a closer look at your trees. Are there holes in the leaves? Do the crowns look thinner than they did last year? You may have a defoliator problem.

Dig into this Summer Tree and Pest Manual for the information you need about summer tree care. You’ll not only learn more about the bugs behind the holes in your leaves, but you’ll also discover when and how you should be watering your trees and how to get them ready for hurricane season.

common summer tree issues in Charlotte, NC

What’s Eating Holes in Your Tree’s Leaves?

Your trees and shrubs would really be sights to behold if it wasn’t for all those holes in the leaves. What’s holding your plants back from being the most beautiful on your block? Defoliators – most likely caterpillars.

Insects that feed on the leaves and needles of your trees and shrubs are called defoliators. They’re usually not so bad. You may not like how they make your trees look, but caterpillars won’t hurt the overall health of your tree if the damage is minor and relatively sporadic.

But there are some instances where you should worry about the holes in your tree’s leaves.

You should take action if you notice any of the following situations:

  • Your tree’s leaves are getting eaten year after year.
  • The leaves of your younger trees are getting eaten.
  • The leaves of your mature trees are getting eaten early in the growing season.

Trees and shrubs need their leaves to create food for themselves, so if caterpillars or other leaf-eating bugs are eating too many leaves too often, it could lead to a decline in your tree’s health.

You may also want to get rid of caterpillars in your trees if they’re ruining your landscape’s aesthetics or you don’t like the waste they’re leaving behind.

Other Defoliators to Watch for in the Summer

Caterpillars may be the most common leaf eater, but they’re not the only tree bug to keep an eye out for in the summertime. Here are more three bugs you should care about:

1. Orange striped oakworms

You’ll find these pests on oak, maple, hickory, and birch trees. They’re orange to brown in color, with a white spot and a dark stripe on each forewing. You’ll also see two black horns sticking out just behind their heads.

2. Japanese beetles

These pests will be on your rose bushes, maple trees, and fruit trees. They have metallic blue-green heads, copper backs, tan wings, and small white hairs lining the sides of their abdomens.

3. Bagworms

You’ll see these pests on your arborvitaes. They make spindle-shaped bags that are about 2 inches long and hang from twigs – don’t mistake these bags for pinecones!

Holey moley!

Caterpillars, orange striped oakworms, Japanese beetles, and bagworms all love feasting on tree and shrub leaves. Holes in your leaves and thin crowns are tell-tale signs of an infestation!

Japanese beetles chew on plant leaves in Charlotte, NC

How to Get Rid of Caterpillars in Your Trees

It’s time to say good riddance to the pesky caterpillars and beetles ruining your tree’s leaves.

Turn to us for insect and disease management in the Charlotte Greensboro, and Raleigh/Durham, NC areas. We can treat trees and shrubs at residential and commercial properties. Whether you’re dealing with an acute, immediate problem or want to prevent bugs from eating your tree’s leaves in the first place, we can help.

Fill out this form to get in touch with us right away!

Why Are There Spots on Your Leaves?

Instead of a healthy green, the leaves of your azalea are bronze, yellow, and/or white. Is your azalea sick? Is it dying?

Just like caterpillars, certain arachnids like to feed on tree and shrub leaves. But instead of chewing through the leaves, they suck out the sap inside. This feeding creates spot-like patterns that make the leaves look discolored. The warm season mite is one type of tree pest that does this.

Lace bugs also suck the sap from tree leaves, leading to leaf yellowing or even leaf bleaching. You may also notice black spots on the bottom of the leaves. Lace bugs usually don’t cause serious damage to your azaleas, but they can make them look bad.

If the infestation is particularly heavy or the lace bugs or mites keep coming back year after year, we can help. Talk to us about your insect management options today!

Lace bugs vs. spider mites

If you’re dealing with discolored leaves, you’ll know lace bugs are the cause if you turn the leaves over and see little black spots (which is excrement, by the way). To see if spider mites are the problem, try this test:

  • Hold a white sheet of paper under a branch
  • Give the branch a good tap
  • Check the sheet for crawling red or brown specks
Lace bug damage on an azalea plant in Charlotte, NC

Is Your Tree Getting Enough Water?

Trees can usually get all of the water they need from Mother Nature, but in times of drought, it’s up to you.

Watering trees is different from watering some of your other plants. The key is to water slowly and deeply.

During a drought, you should water mature trees every 7-10 days. The water should seep into about 8 inches of the soil.

Bookmark the U.S. Drought Monitor website to keep an eye on drought conditions in our area. And if you want more tips on watering your trees, take a look at this: The 7 Mistakes You’re Making While Watering Your Trees

Tree watering tip:

You don’t need to water the leaves or needles of your tree. In fact, doing so can lead to fungal diseases. Keep the water at soil level!

Trees need supplemental watering in times of drought

Hurricane Season is on the Horizon

If you’ve lived in the Charlotte, Greensboro, or Raleigh, NC area for a while, you know severe summer weather like thunderstorms and hurricanes can make a mess of your yard. Is there a tree in your yard that looks like it might not survive the next hurricane season? Let us check it out.

Summer is a great time to schedule a tree risk assessment. Our experts, who have their ISA TRAQ credentials, can closely examine the integrity of your tree. Depending on what we find, we may recommend insect or disease treatments, a supplemental support system, or pruning.

Learn more about our risk mitigation services here: If You’re Worried About Tree Failure, Schedule This Service

Ready for your next read?

It’s never too early to start preparing your trees for colder weather. Which treatments should you schedule for the fall to get your trees through the winter? All the info you need is in our Fall Tree & Pest Manual. Start reading today!