4 Common Insects That Can Harm Your Tree and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs are an essential part of our lives. Standing upright like statues, they offer beauty and grace. With so many benefits to offer, they provide the most essential element known to man, oxygen. Their leaves provide a canopy of shade from the sun, while their bark provides refuge to all kinds of wildlife and insects. Unfortunately, some of the insects that live within our Kentucky, Ohio, and Indianapolis lawn ornaments are harmful and destructive. Many are carrying with them bacteria and deadly diseases.

At Unique Lawn Care, we know how important your valuable trees and shrubs are. We believe the best way to combat various diseases is to start with a preventive tree care plan to keep them healthy and strong. A healthy tree is much better able to fight an infestation or disease.  While there are various disease-carrying insects and different fungi that attack our Kentucky, Ohio, and Indianapolis trees, here is a list of some of the most common. tree scale on tree branch

Scale Insects

Scales are insects that come in many different sizes and shapes and are often difficult to identify. There are two different kinds, armored and soft scales. The armored scale secretes a hard shell it uses to protect itself. The soft scale protects itself through a waxy film it secretes. These pests multiply very quickly and suck the life out of trees and landscape plants once infested. Plants infected with scale insects often turn a blackish color and may attract flies, wasps, and other flying insects. 

If you notice your trees exhibiting the following symptoms, you should check for a tree scale infestation.

  • Yellowing of leaves
  • Early defoliation
  • Stunted growth
  • Bumps or growths (insects) on branches

The best way to prevent a tree scale infestation is by keeping your trees in a healthy condition with optimal watering, fertilizing, and mulching. 


Aphids are tiny bugs that feed on the liquid inside of stems and leaves. They are almost always green or yellow, and their antennae are slightly shorter than their body. They use their long, tube-like mouthpart to suck the sap out of leaves and stems, injecting their saliva into the plant. They leave behind a sticky substance called honeydew. A sooty mold may develop on the honeydew causing those surfaces to appear dirty. A

Ants feed on the honeydew and are often present in the areas that aphids are found. The first sign of an aphid infestation is leaves curling up, turning brown, and eventually dying off. Small numbers of colonies can be crushed by hand or removed by pruning, but the best way to reduce an aphid infestation is through early detection and prevention.


Anthracnose is a fungus caused by overwintering fungi in cankers that reside on twigs. This fungus creates dead spots on leaves and disrupts the photosynthesis process. It can lead to early defoliation, stressing the tree and making it vulnerable to other diseases. The first thing you will notice if your tree is infected with anthracnose is ugly, discolored spots on the leaves. As time passes, the fungus will spread and the spots will grow bigger and darker. Eventually, they will consume the entire leaf and cause it to fall off.

Anthracnose can continue to spread each year and severely damage or kill the tree. It can attack any type of tree but prefers ash, oak, maple, dogwood, and sycamore trees. This fungus can spread quickly from tree to tree via wind, insects, rain, and even humans who can carry the infected spores around on garden tools. The best way to protect your trees from anthracnose is through proper fertilization and watering. I know we’ve said this before, but stronger trees tend to be more resilient to the disease. dutch elm disease

Dutch Elm Disease

Dutch elm disease is a fungus that an elm bark beetle unknowingly carries from infested wood to a healthy tree. How does this occur? The elm bark beetle lays their eggs in dead or dying elms. In late fall, the eggs hatch and produce larvae. The larvae then tunnel under the tree’s bark. In early spring, they emerge, pick up the spores from the fungus and then carry the fungus’ spores to healthy trees.

Symptoms of this disease include yellowing or wilting of leaves, which then quickly die. Unfortunately, this disease spreads rapidly. There is no cure, only prevention. The best way to prevent this and any other disease is through proper fertilization and an effective pest control program.

Protect Your Trees Now With Unique Lawn Care’s Tree and Shrub Care Program

At Unique Lawn Care, we provide just the type of maintenance and preventive program you need. Our Tree and Shrub Care Program is designed to promote the healthy growth of trees while protecting them from pests and diseases. It includes dormant oil to control scale and overwintering insects such as those we just discussed and a balanced blend of fertilizers to help promote root growth and keep your plant robust. A healthier plant will be better able to ward off diseases and pest infestations when they surface. While nothing is 100% foolproof, the best way to protect your beloved trees and shrubs is through prevention.

So give us a call and find out how we can help protect your valuable trees and shrubs. If you are a resident of Indianapolis, call our location there at 317-567-1800. Live in the Louisville area? Call 502-637-5700. If you live in Dayton, Ohio, call us at 937-746-5000. Lastly, if you live in or around Cincinnati, call 513-779-1111. Or, contact us here. For more tips and ideas, check out our other blog articles.

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