Although this weekend doesn’t feel like it, we’ve had a mild winter and are poised to experience an early spring. As most residents welcome the warm weather with open arms, here at RTEC Treecare we are wary of what this means for our plants! We’re gearing up to deal with the harmful repercussions of the unusual weather, including high levels of insect & disease damage, increased mosquito & tick populations, and frost damage. Fortunately, we’ve got everything you need to know about battling these spring pests!
Why Mild Winters Lead to More Pests in Spring
In a typical year, the DC Metro area will see harmful tree insects, diseases, and fungi populations considerably lowered because of cold winter temperatures. Deep freezes naturally suppress the pest populations, leading to a smaller and less lethal population of tree pests in the spring.
Unfortunately for us, our area experienced a mild winter; never reaching periods of single-digit temperatures. In February, typically the second coldest of the year, temperatures rarely dipped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit while daily highs reached into the mid-60s. This means that the populations of insects, diseases, and fungi that have been lying low all winter are now easily mobilized armies ready to wreak havoc on your trees and shrubs this spring.
Tree Pests that Thrive in Spring
Just as trees and shrubs emerge from their winter slumber, so do pests and diseases. Many pests go dormant in the winter, only to hatch and begin eating our plants in the spring! Similarly, fungi and diseases can overwinter in materials and reinfect plants or spread to new ones.
Pests and threats common to the DC metropolitan area:
- Emerald Ash Borer
- Fall Webworms
- Boxelder Bugs
Common Fungi and Diseases
- Anthracnose and Leaf Spot
- Root Rot
- Dutch Elm
- Powdery Mildew
- Sooty Mold
How to Protect Your Trees Against Insects, Disease, and Mold this Spring
The best way to protect your trees and shrubs from pests and diseases is through preventative care and regular inspections. The truth is, when it comes to some pests and diseases, there can be a point of no return for your trees and shrubs. If you are noticing unusual symptoms in your plants, don’t wait to reach out for help!
Insects go through several molts throughout the year, which means they often have different impacts on your plants at each stage. It can be hard to know what stage a pest is in and which stage is right to treat them in. There are different techniques and products needed for each part of the life cycle. Fortunately, our technicians and certified arborists stay updated and keep a keen eye out for these changes in order to give your property exactly what it needs when it needs it.
There are many steps we can take to protect our trees and shrubs this season!
- Clean up your yard and remove leaf litter from around diseased trees. Many diseases can remain on plant material over the winter, only to reinfect in the spring.
- Sign up for a Canopy Protection Program. This comprehensive program ensures an environmental specialist is on your property every few weeks to inspect and treat your yard!
- Regularly prune – routine pruning gets rid of diseased, dead, and weak branches, which promotes the overall health of the tree.
- Get intensive treatments – we offer specialized programs to treat mature trees for seasonal fungi, disease, and pest control.
- Avoid mulch volcanoes – they retain too much moisture and can increase a tree’s susceptibility to pests and diseases.
- Strengthen your trees with Bio-Stimulants! Our multi-vitamin treatment provides plants with a boost of organic goodness to help them obtain the necessary nutrients to stay strong.
- Properly water your plants. Make sure your plants are getting the recommended amount of water and that your soil is draining properly. Poorly drained soil can lead to root rot. Moreover, after winter it is good to wash off any de-icing salt residue that may remain in your soil and on your plants.
Combating Ticks and Mosquitos
The repercussions of a mild winter aren’t isolated to tree pests. Area residents can also expect to see high population levels of mosquitoes and ticks this spring and summer. Mosquitoes are perhaps one of the most frustrating pests to encounter, especially when you’re just trying to enjoy the weather! Additionally, this surge in population increases your chance of contracting mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, such as Zika and Lyme. Over 1,000 Americans each year still experience severe illness or death from a mosquito bite, even more from tick bites. Luckily, we’re got you covered with our Safe-Shield Mosquito and Tick Program! Take some time to walk around your yard to check for any standing water in planters, buckets, or other containers – these become an explosive breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Why Spring Frosts are a Double-Edged Sword
Not only do we have to worry about the consequences of early spring, but we also have to look out for spring frosts. Late-season frosts can have negative impacts on our plants. Once trees awaken for the spring, the shift to freezing temperatures can lead to issues such as the death of blooms, reduced blooms for the year, bark injuries, and the drying of evergreen needles.
You may think this frost has a silver lining and will eradicate all the tree pests, mosquitoes, and ticks that weren’t killed because of the mild winter. Unfortunately, these temperatures are just low enough to cause tree damage but aren’t low enough to hurt the pest populations! While spring frosts are seemingly unlikely, it is still something to be aware of!
Consult with an RTEC Arborist to Protect Your Home Landscaping this Spring!
Figuring out what to do to protect your family and trees can be overwhelming; especially when you really want to focus on planning summer vacations, barbecues, and weekend outings. Protecting your family and trees is easier than you think! Below are three simple things you can do to give yourself a worry-free spring and summer.
The best three things you can do to protect your family and trees this spring are: