Pest Prevention

Control those pests before they control your trees!

Results of pest infestation.

Are you gearing up for winter? There is no better time to protect your trees and shrubs from pests. Especially when that solution is organic! Read on to learn about the benefits of Horticultural Oil and how it combats pests through this interview with RTEC Certified Arborist, Jim Osborn. 

Who is Jim? 

Jim Osborn is one of RTEC’s Project Managers. He has been a Certified Arborist since 1986. When asked how he got into this field he responded: Earth Day 1974. That was the first (established) Earth Day. It got us (environmental enthusiasts) all hyped up about the environment. From there I studied at Michigan Tech to become a Forester.  

Jim came from Michigan to Virginia due to his involvement with other environmental based projects. He found Virginia to be a good area, and RTEC to be a good company. While the draw might have been the D.C. Metropolitan area, the thing that kept him at RTEC was knowing he was a part of a company that was able to do the right things [for others, and the environment] and the autonomy he had – something that he could not find at larger corporations he had worked for in the past.  

What is Horticultural Oil? 

Horticultural oil is a newer term for something we use to call Dormant Oil.  Historically, oil is used to suffocate things. Dormant oil was something that came from this idea, but over many years, they (product developers) learned that refining it – like taking engine oil and turning it to baby oil. The difference between the two is the amount of sulfur and soilds in it. The more refined oil is less damaging. Back to my example, we would never rub motor oil on a baby’s bottom, but Johnson and Johnson is okay. The same goes for leaves, and the leaf tissue. As we continue to evolve and develop, we have come to horticultural oil, an even more refined oil – which is much cleaner. It’s a safer way to deal with insect activity, while still protecting your shrubs. 

All insects need to respire, depending on the type of insect, a coating of oil will clog up that ability to respire – slowly suffocating. Typically, this works on specific insects. Ones that are not mobile, and smooth bodied (like scale and mites). The spray allows us to control this. Something that is not controllable are insects that can move, fly, or are not smooth. Caterpillars cannot be controlled with the oil because they can move away from it. It’s uneffective. That’s why the arborist and plant health care technician has training to determine what product works on what disease.  

Why Winter? 

If it’s cold typically the trees are not perspiring as much. Similarly to a dog. When a dog is hot it is panting, usually in the summer time. Because of the heat it’s perspiring. Leaves do the same. Understanding this allows us to know what ratios to use throughout Fall, Winter and Summer, granting better control over the pests. 

Often times we have to consider the plant at hand and ask what it would be more detrimental, the pests or the spray? There are a number of  species that should not have Horticultural Oil applied due to the “strength” of its leaves. Some of these include:

Arborist applying Horticultural oil solution to tree.
  • Junipers 
  • Roses 
  • Grapevines 

Other Benefits to using Horticultural Oil: 

  • Reduces gas exchange 
  • Delay bud breakage 
  • Protect from frost damage 

There are many factors to account for when considering the use of Horticultural oil. If you want to learn more, or inquire about your trees and shrubs, call us today! Our Certified Arborists and Plant Health Care Technicians can recommend the best solutions for your trees and shrubs this upcoming winter.

Call Us at 703-573-3029

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