A landscape tree can look perfectly healthy one year, and the next it may show symptoms of decline and extensive dieback. The cause is often an insect pest. Many tree pests actually bore into the wood.
While the tree can often handle the small amounts of damage from feeding or nesting insect pests, they all too often bring viral, bacterial, or fungal disease pathogens with them. These then infect the vascular system of the tree so that within a year the entire tree is affected and dying. The key is to avoid an insect infestation from getting to this point. The following are some organic insect control strategies you can implement to help avoid pest problems in your trees.
Prevent the spread of pests
One of the easiest things to do is maintain your trees and landscaping so that if insects do invade one tree, the others won't be as exposed. Do this by keeping trees spaced and trimmed so that branches don't tangle together.
Insects can spread slowly if there is no immediate path to another tree. Keep leaves raked and twigs and branches picked up, as well.
If you must have a tree cut down, remove it from the property promptly. Beetles and other tree pests will flee a downed tree for nearby healthy trees in some instances, so you don't want the deadwood laying around your property.
Maintain proper care
A tree stressed from drought or damage is more likely to suffer a pest infestation. Avoid doing anything that will damage the bark.
Much like our skin, the bark provides the protective layer to keep infections out of the tree. Things like lawnmower damage or putting nails in the tree can increase the chances of a pest problem.
Further, make sure the trees are properly watered and fertilized so that they don't suffer any stress. Weak trees can not fight off insects or disease very well. Mulching around the tree will help conserve moisture while also providing some soil nutrition as the mulch decomposes.
Spot treat minor issues
Insects that travel up the trunk or feed on the foliage can sometimes be controlled easily with neem or another type of organic horticultural oil. Simply spray the oil on the tree when the insects are active.
The oil clogs the respiratory system of the insects so that they suffocate and die. There are also organic "sticky" products you can place around the base of the trunk that will prevent insects from crawling up the trunk and into the tree. Keep in mind this won't work with flying insects.
For more information, contact a tree service that offers organic insect control services.