To most, fall brings to mind football, chilly nights, hot apple cider, festivals, and colorful leaves. But to those in the tree care industry, fall is a time to prepare for the seasons to come and set trees up for success in the spring. By focusing on your trees and shrubs in fall, you will have fewer issues in the spring when trees are vulnerable to new diseases and insects.
A common myth about insects and diseases is that they die off when the weather gets cold. This couldn’t be farther from the truth when talking about trees. Many types of insects and diseases that affect trees overwinter – the tree industry’s term for saying they survive throughout the winter.
Leaves Make The Best Hiding Spots
Disease and fungi tend to overwinter in the tree’s fallen leaves. When spring comes around warm temperatures and rain activate these spores and re-infect the tree. The best course of action for this is to simply remove contaminated leaves to reduce the risk of spring infection.
The real issue occurs with overwintering insects. Insects, pests, and egg masses tend to overwinter on the tree’s branches and bark. This leaves them in a prime position to hatch/become active in the spring and immediately start munching on your trees and shrubs. Much like how it’s easier to put out a fire when it’s small and isolated, rather than waiting until it has engulfed a whole building; dealing with insects, diseases, and fungi in the fall is a lot easier than waiting till signs appear in the spring. By dealing with the insects while they are over-wintering you drastically reduce the population that survives through the winter. This means little to no pests feeding on your tree/shrubs in the spring and summer.
So What Should I Do?
The best way to deal with overwintering insects is to apply a fall dormant oil spray. This environmentally friendly spray suffocates the overwintering insects before they have a chance to spread and damage your trees and shrubs in the spring.
Benefits of Dormant Oil:
- Safe for beneficial insects
- Safe for children and animals
- Not a poison, it simply smothers the insects, pests, and egg masses
- Reduces/suppresses overwintering population
- Safe to use on fruit trees
- Reduces the chance of spring insect issues
How Do I Know If I Need Dormant Oil?
Our Certified Arborists suggest that everyone invest in dormant oil to proactively protect their trees. But you should especially use fall dormant oils if your tree/shrub/landscape has a history of mites, eastern tent caterpillars, scale, and aphids.