Fall Tree and Pest Manual

Fall is one of the best times to nourish and care for your trees! Our Fall Tree and Pest Manual will show you how.

Late summer and early fall are interesting seasons from a plant health care perspective. Some insects lay their eggs at this time of year, while others are just joining Tinder with big plans for the spring. We can handle both.

In our Fall Tree and Pest Manual, we’ll share what you may see on your trees in the fall versus what you won’t see, but should definitely care about in the fall.


Our Fall Manual covers:

  1. Pests to Look Out for in the Fall
  2. Treatment Options for Pests That Attack Trees & Shrubs in the Fall
  3. The Insects You Won’t See in the Fall but Should Care About
  4. Fall Treatment for Spring Insects
  5. Spring Fungal Diseases You’ll Want to Protect Against in the Fall
  6. Treatment for Spring Fungal Diseases

Pests to look out for in the fall: Fall webworm and orange-striped oakworm

Worms (aka caterpillars) are the larval stage of moths and butterflies that eat foliage. Depending on when they first appear, we classify them as early- or late-season defoliators. Late-season defoliators, like fall webworm and orange-striped oakworm, are less harmful than early-season defoliators since their host (the tree) has already made most of its food for the season.

Late-season defoliators typically first show up in late July and may last until late September. Generally, late-season defoliators are not treated, but there are some exceptions, including:

  • Annual and/or large defoliation events, which can have a significant effect on the tree’s long-term health.
  • Nuisance situations where waste (poop) is excreted over a sidewalk, deck, pool, parking area, etc.
Fall webworm is a tree bug in the Carolinas

Treatment options for pests that attack trees and shrubs in the fall

Here’s what you need to know about your treatment options for worms in your trees:

  • Foliar treatments take effect in 1-2 days, but typically only last 2-4 weeks. When applied early in the season, additional treatments may be needed for season-long control.
  • Soil-injected treatments take effect after 2-4 weeks, but last longer — typically 8 weeks or so.
  • Trunk-injected treatments take effect after 2-4 weeks and can provide control into the following season when applied late enough in the season.

The insects you won’t see in the fall but should care about: Spring insects

Yes, we know it may sound odd, but late fall is a great time to treat for spring piercing-sucking insects. These are little pests like aphids, soft scales, lace bugs, and white flies that use their mouths to puncture your leaves and suck out their delicious, nutritious, plant juices. But they don’t just hang out on leaves — they can cover the branches and/or trunk of your trees. They can also leave yellow or white spots on your leaves, cause wilting or branch decay, and reduce the growth of your trees.

If you have an issue this year that you don’t want to repeat next year, schedule treatments for late fall.

Brown soft scale on trees and leaves in North Carolina

The fall is a great time to prepare your trees and shrubs before the dormant season arrives, but DIY projects can be time-consuming. Let us take that off your to-do list.

Fill out this form to get in touch with your area’s arborist representative today!

Fall treatment for spring insects

Here’s what you need to know about your fall treatment options to combat spring insects:

  • We won’t treat the pests themselves during the dormant season after your tree has already lost its leaves.
  • Rather, we can apply a systemic soil treatment in the late fall, so the insecticide is loaded and ready to go.
  • That way, when spring arrives and new foliage is beginning to form, your tree’s roots can quickly pick up the treatment from the soil and distribute it throughout the trunk and crown for complete protection.

Spring fungal diseases you’ll want to protect against in the fall

Spring fungal diseases, like anthracnose, are spread and maintained via spores that over-winter on fallen foliage and other tree parts. As temps warm and moisture increases in spring, these spores serve to re-infect the new tree foliage as it begins to form. When the infection is severe enough, the tree may lose its foliage prematurely, and when this happens repeatedly, the tree may not be able to make enough food for itself via photosynthesis. The tree’s long-term health may begin to suffer as a result. In North Carolina, we often see this with cherry and dogwood trees.

When it comes to fungal infections, it’s all about prevention versus eradication. Treatment must begin and continue throughout the early spring vulnerability period when new foliage is being formed. Unfortunately, we are often called later in the season, when it’s already too late to treat effectively. To be more confident in your treatment, schedule your spring fungicidal treatment(s) in the fall. We’ll get you on the calendar and be able to treat before it’s too late.

Treating for fall tree fungus in North Carolina

Treatment for spring fungal diseases

Here’s what you need to know about your treatment options for tree fungal diseases:

  • Reducing residual spore loads via sanitation is important. This means raking up infected foliage that has fallen around the base the tree. It also means pruning dead branches and limbs.
  • These actions will reduce the localized spore load and lessen the opportunity for spores to re-infect your tree in the spring. Note: If your trees are disease-free, leave as many leaves on the ground as you’re comfortable with. They’re good for fertilization!
  • Come spring, we can apply foliar fungicides just prior to and while the new growth is forming to significantly reduce reinfection rates.
  • Both organic and traditional synthetic fungicidal treatments are available.

But wait, there’s more on tree bugs and pests!

While we have a lot of information on this page and even more on our I Have Tree Bugs! page, we also keep our readers abreast of plant health care issues through our regularly updated blog. Feel free to search the blog at any time, but below is a quick reference of blog topics on tree diseases and pests for you.

Seasonal advice for healthy trees

Preventative treatments for tree health

Bug-specific blog posts

Tree- and plant-specific blog posts

And all-around great DIY tree and landscape advice

Carolina Tree Care would love to work with you.

Contact us today and work with a team you can trust and will understand the importance of long-term care for your trees.

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