Sugar maple trees are beautiful additions to any yard due to the vivid fall foliage and the fact that these are the trees that produce maple syrup. Keep your sugar maples looking – and tasting – its best with regular tree maintenance, which includes monitoring for signs of any insect infestations. Insects can spread tree diseases and damage wherever they go, so it's important to catch infestations early to treat and remove the threat.
Here are three types of insects that can wreak havoc on sugar maple trees – and how a pest control service can help stop the problem in its tracks.
Forest Tent Caterpillar
Forest tent caterpillars are light brown with dark brown stripes on its back and orange and blue stripes on its sides. The caterpillars are about two inches long when full size and appear during the early summer months.
The caterpillars will cause defoliation, or the premature browning and shedding of leaves. Sugar maple trees can defoliate quite a bit due to a caterpillar infestation but can regrow the leaves within a few weeks. Sap production, however, will weaken and can remain weak for multiple years.
Treat an existing caterpillar infestation by calling in a pest control company, such as Rainbow Pest Control, to use insecticide that won't hurt your tree. Early the following summer, you should check the tree for signs of caterpillar eggs and remove them from the tree before the infection takes hold. If your tree is defoliating, allow the dying leaves to fall off and allow the tree to regrow the leaves at its own pace with no pruning necessary on your part.
Scale insects are easy to overlook because they don't move and are small and flat in shape. The name comes from the fact that the insects can resemble the scales of a fish. Scales eat leaves and bark to access sap, which can cause parts of the tree to start to wither and fall off. In a scale infestation, the leaves will turn gray or black rather than brown before falling off, which can help you diagnose the problem.
If you suspect a scale infestation, call in a pest control company for insecticide treatments and manual removal of adult scales, which are more resistant to insecticide. You may also want to hire a tree trimming service to remove any partially withered branches and affected leaves to help the tree stave off any other diseases in its weakened state.
If round holes appear in the tops of your maple tree's leaves, and some of the holes still have center greenery, you might have a maple leafcutter infestation. Adult leafcutters are blue with orange heads but are very small in size so they're easy to miss with a visual inspection despite the vivid coloring.
Hire a pest control company to remove the leafcutters with insecticide and manual removal. Ask a tree trimming company to prune away and dispose of any affected leaves to prevent the problem from coming back again next year.