Bad Bugs for Trees: Look Out for These Pests!

Bad Bugs for Trees: Look Out for These Pests!

under the bark of a diseased tree you can see evidence of a boring insect eating the cambium

Your trees aren’t easily replaced.

From their initial planting to the present day, mature trees represent decades of care and attention. The last thing you want to do is have your healthy trees harmed by insect pests — the bugs that harm trees.

Let’s look at some of the biggest offenders when it comes to tree-eating bugs and pests that otherwise damage your home or business landscape.

Do Bugs Harm Trees?

Yes, some bugs harm trees. The majority of insects won’t cause damage to trees that otherwise survive and thrive where they’re planted. But all it takes is one kind of bad tree bug to start causing damage.

Give them enough time without any tree care or pest control services and these insects can seriously harm or even kill trees. You’re left with an eyesore or a major project with tree removal and stump grinding involved.

While we provide those services and are happy to offer them, we want to help you keep your trees healthy.

Let’s quickly review the types of bugs that help trees, then dive into more details about the pests that harm them.

Do Bugs Help Trees?

Many other insects live in harmony with trees, however. And some tree insects can even help by preying on the bugs that eat trees or damage them in other ways. 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac sorted good bugs into three groups: pollinators, predators, and parasitizers.

Pollinators (like bees) help pollinate fruit trees if it wasn’t already obvious. Predators (like ladybugs) eat the insects that attack your trees. Parasitizers lay eggs that eventually hatch within and kill the garden pests that damage trees. That’s a bit of a grim concept, but it does help keep your trees safe.

A caterpillar eats a leaf in a close-up view.

What Bugs are Bad for Trees? The 3 Major Categories

While there are many types of insects that can harm your trees, you can sort them into three large but distinct groups.

Defoliating Insects

Defoliating insects feed on the leaves and other soft growth that emerges from trees. They attack an easier target than do the other major groups of bad bugs we’ve listed here. Flowers and buds can also attract this type of insect.

Because they feed on the outside of trees, these insects make their presence known. You may see them as they attack or notice the evidence of a recent feeding as you check up on your trees.

Defoliation harms both the health and aesthetic appearance of your trees, so it’s especially important to identify and address this issue quickly.

Common defoliating insects include:

  • Caterpillars
  • Leaf beetles
  • Spotted lanternflies
  • Winter moths

Burrowing Insects

Burrowing insects are also called tunneling insects. Boring insects are another common term for this variety of pests. Not because they’ll put you to sleep during a dinner party, but because they dig into trees in search of a place to lay their eggs.

When those eggs hatch, the larvae also bore through the tree and cause additional damage. The paths carved by mature insects and their offspring that are visible on the tree are called galleries. They provide a clear sign of injury to the tree, and the distinct shapes different insects make can help arborists diagnose and treat the issue.

The Texas A&M Forest Service explains that boring insects are especially harmful, with the capacity to kill a single tree or entire stand of them relatively quickly. A quick response is crucial when you start to notice signs like galleries.

Common burrowing insects include:

Sucking Insects

Sucking insects feed on the nutrients that trees need to grow, as well as remain healthy and viable. Some of these bad bugs for trees find that food source so dependable that they become immobile for an extended period while feeding.

Immobile insects are, thankfully, easy to spot during a checkup on your trees. The wounds left by more mobile insects can also be a sign of this problem. The Oregon Department of Forestry offers additional guidance for spotting the signs of sucking insects and other pests.

Common sucking insects include:

  • Aphids
  • Balsam wooly adelgids
  • Japanese beetles
  • Scale insects

Don’t Fall Victim to Bad Bugs for Trees

The certified arborists at Monkeyman’s Tree Service are ready to help you identify potential issues, diagnose them, and solve them. We are proud to provide high-quality service that prioritizes the health and beauty of your trees, whether the issue is bad bugs or something else entirely.

We are Oregon’s most trusted tree service company. Schedule a free estimate today!