Affordable Tree Care - Serving Southeastern Wisconsin since 1992

Insect & Disease Control

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Damage and destruction caused by insects, diseases and weeds can severely limit the ability of trees, shrubs and grass in your landscape to thrive. We offer preventative treatments as well as fertilization and corrective treatments for many things.  We will put a specialized plan in place to keep your plants and trees healthy and strong for years to come.



Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Anthracnose The primary signs of anthracnose are tan to red-brown lesions that extend along the veins and edges of the leaf, as well as considerable defoliation, sometimes with complete leaf loss. Anthracnose (leaf blight) is a fungus that winters on twig tissue on the tree.  In the spring, spores are transported to new buds and shoots.  The disease is enhanced by cool, wet conditions.  Infected leaves develop tan to reddish brown lesions that extend along the veins of the leaf.  Considerable defoliation, sometimes with complete leaf loss, occurs on many trees by late spring in cool, wet years.

Different species of anthracnose impact a variety of tree species, including oak, ash, maple, elm, hickory, walnut, birch, linden, sycamore and dogwood.  Sycamore, white oak and dogwood are particularly susceptible to anthracnose.


Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Ants

Ant nests are very common inside trees, especially older trees that are hollow or have a significant amount of dead limbs and branches. The nests are usually in rotted, decayed wood, although some nests may extend into sound heartwood in the center of the tree.


Carpenter ants in trees are not directly harmful to the tree. Control is not essential for the tree's health, as the ants are only taking advantage of an existing situation of soft, weak wood in which to establish their colony. Stress, mechanical injury, environmental conditions, disease or other insects are responsible for killing limbs or sections of the trees in which the ants are able to nest. Once injury has occurred, wood decay can set in if moisture is present; it is the wood decay that gives the carpenter ants the opportunity to colonize the tree. Carpenter ants use knots, cracks, holes and old insect tunnels to gain access to these areas.


Control of carpenter ants inside trees is difficult, but can be done as a way to reduce invasion of the ants into adjacent structures. It is also possible for ant colonies located inside trees to form satellite colonies inside a nearby home wall.

Apple Scab

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Apple Scab Apple scab is a fungal disease which affects the leaves, fruit and twigs.  While most common in apple trees, both pear and hawthorn are also frequently infected by the fungus.  Outbreaks will be most severe following particularly wet and cool spring conditions.


The fungus overwinters on fallen leaves and begins to develop spores in the spring prior to budbreak.  The spores are then transported by wind, rain or other physical means to infect tender, developing leaves, twigs and fruit.  Once the fungal infection is established in the newly forming tissues, more spores are produced and spread to other areas of the tree.

Birch Borer

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Birch Borer Of the number of pests which are attracted to the birch trees, the bronze birch borer is the most important as it is both lethal and difficult to control.  As an adult, the borer is a small bronze colored beetle up to 2 inches in length.  The damage, though, is not caused by the beetle itself but by the larvae which bore into the phloem and cambium layers after emerging from their eggs on the bark.  The borers' tunneling weakens and kills trees by interrupting the flow of sap.  The entire lifecycle of the borer is one year from egg to beetle.    Evidence of borer infestation is a progressive thinning of the crown of the tree beginning at the top.  Trees generally die after about two or three years, that is, after two or three infestations by the larvae.  If caught early enough, there are insecticides available to prevent new infestations of the borer but these will not kill larvae already active in the tree.

Bur Oak Blight (BOB)

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Bur Oak Blight Foliage diseases usually require rainy weather, but we continue to see many large bur oak trees with severe symptoms of Bur Oak Blight (BOB).  If there are a couple of rainy days when new shoots are expanding in spring, the fungus that causes BOB may infect the leaves, but grows very slowly, and the leaves remain symptomless for two or more months. A healthy-appearing bur oak may be suddenly full of dead leaves in August. The killed leaves that hang on to branches through winter provide the spores for the next spring's infections.



Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Iron Chlorosis Iron or manganese chlorosis describes a condition in which a tree’s foliage loses its healthy green color and fades to a pale green or yellow hue.  This condition if allowed to progress will cause slow growth, leaf loss and eventually tree death.  Chlorosis is often caused by deficiencies of the micro-elements iron and manganese.



Dutch Elm Disease

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Dutch Elm Disease The first sign of the disease is the sudden wilting of leaves in the upper reaches of the tree.

Next, the leaves change color from green to yellow to brown. They then shrivel and die.


If the infection occurs very late in the season, the leaves will appear to fall normally. However, the following spring the new leaves will be smaller than normal. The tree will often die before mid-summer.   Preventative treatments can be administered to protect elm trees from DED.

Eastern Tent Caterpillar

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Catepillars Caterpillars are the larval stage of moths and are among the most serious defoliators of trees.  One example is the eastern tent caterpillar which is responsible for defoliating forest trees, as well as cherry, apple and other ornamental shade trees. Other caterpillar pests include the gypsy moth, winter moth, spring and fall cankerworm, bagworm, clear wing borers, pine tip moth and tussock moth.  Some moth larvae, such as tip moths and clear wing borers, feed inside the twigs, shoots or trunk of the tree and are virtually unseen.

Emerald Ash Borer

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Emerald Ash Borer Emerald ash borer (EAB),  is an exotic beetle that was discovered in Southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients and eventually kill every ash tree.   Ash trees can be treated to prevent the Ash borer and should the borer be present, the treatment will also kill the insect and its larvae as long as the tree isn't too infested and past the point of return.  There are no visible signs the first 1-2 years the bug is in the tree and one of the first indicators is die back at the very top of the tree.  Our Arborist and Licensed Applicators can evaluate and treat your tree in the Spring, Summer and Fall.


Click here for more EAB information.

Gypsy Moth

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Gypsy Moth The gypsy moth caterpillar is not a fussy eater.  It has a preference for the leaves of deciduous hardwood trees such as maple, elm, and particularly oak.  Gypsy moths can also feed on apple, alder, birch, poplar and willow trees.  As it grows it will also attack evergreens like pines and spruces.  Gypsy moths appear to dislike ashes, sycamores, butternuts, black walnuts, dogwoods and balsams.  However, during heavy infestations, competition for food will drive the caterpillar to attack almost any tree or shrub.


Depending on the degree of infestation, tree damage ranges from light to almost complete defoliation.  Most deciduous trees can survive a moderate degree of defoliation.  Many can even survive one complete defoliation by the gypsy moth caterpillar.  However, continuing attacks can fatally weaken a tree or leave it vulnerable to other insects or disease.

Japanese Beetles

Affordable Tree Care Insect and Disease Control Services - Japanese Beetle There is hardly a gardener out there who hasn’t encountered a Japanese beetle. The adult Japanese beetle is a shiny, metallic green with copper-brown wing covers and it’s about 3/8-inch in length. Not all metallic green or copper beetles are Japanese Beetles To be sure of what you’re dealing with, you can look closely at the underside of the beetle and you’ll also see 5 small, white tufts under the wing covers and an additional tuft at the end of the abdomen.


Japanese beetles can create havoc in a garden by feeding on the leaves of a number of different plants, skeletonizing the leaves and eventually defoliating the plants. An individual Japanese beetle doesn’t do that much damage while feeding on a plant, but they tend to congregate in large numbers and can easily defoliate shrubs and trees. Keep in mind that the adult Japanese beetles are only around for a little over a month.  We offer foliar spray treatments to reduce/eliminate an existing population during an outbreak and can also offer a fall root injection treatment to prevent your trees and shrubs from being attacked the following season.

Leaf Galls

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Leaf Gall Have you ever picked up a leave that was dotted with bumps or had long protrusions dangling from it? Chances are these are galls. Galls are abnormal, vegetative growths that are usually formed as a response by plants to the action of fungus, mites, or insects such as wasps, aphids, and true bugs. Galls can be formed in the leaves, petioles (stem) of leaves, twigs, buds, or on the roots.


Leaf galls are a frightening sight, but are not usually as serious as they appear. These bumps and deformities are usually the result of insects or mites feeding on the leaves. The gall itself is the plant’s response to the irritation. It’s not unlike the bump you get when an insect feeds on you, expect the leaf gall is not going to go away.


Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Leaf Gall Despite appearances, the insect is not living in the gall. In fact, it is very likely that once you notice the galls the insects have moved on. Before they do, they can do a lot of cosmetic damage to many plants and in particular trees. Many common trees are susceptible to leaf galls, especially in the spring. Maple, oak, elm, hackberry and others each are favored by a different insect that causes unsightly and intimidating galls. Damage will be greater following a mild winter, since more insects have survived and are hungry. Galls won’t usually kill a tree, but they may cause early leaf drop. A healthy tree will send out new growth and recover.

Leaf Hopper

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Leaf Hoppers There are many types of leafhoppers that attack a wide-range of trees and plants. Most leafhoppers are narrow and only about half an inch long. They move very quickly, hopping or flying when disturbed. When on the leaf, the leafhopper can move in any direction, moving sideways and backwards almost as fast as their forward motion. Leafhoppers can easily be identified by the large eyes on the sides of their heads.


Leafhoppers feed on a wide-range of trees and plants, by sucking large amounts of sap out of leaves and new twig growth. As they suck the sap, they produce large amount of honeydew, which is a discharge of undigested sap sugars. The honeydew appears as a clear, shiny, sticky material on the leaves.


Leaves that are severely damaged by leafhoppers are unsightly and the tree loses its ability to produce food.   Leafhoppers should be controlled as early as possible, before serious damage occurs.

Oak Wilt

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Oak Wilt Oak wilt is a disease caused by the fungus that is specific to oaks.   The fungus is spread through root grafts between neighboring trees and by insects.  Red oaks are particularly susceptible to oak wilt. The infection causes leaf discoloration, defoliation and death in a very short period of time (from two months to one year).  Fungal mats will form under the bark and force outwards, cracking the bark of the tree.  White oaks are more tolerant of oak wilt infection.  Fungal mats will not form and it will take much longer for the tree to succumb to the disease.  Oak trees can be proactively treated to prevent the fungus from attacking,  If you have a feature oak tree in your yard that you don't want to loose it is critical to have it treated.  Oak wilt is in our area with trees lost every year to the deadly fungus.

Powdery Mildew

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Powdery Mildew As the name implies, powdery mildew looks like powdery splotches of white or gray, on the leaves and stems of plants. There are actually several types of powdery mildew fungi, but they all look basically the same. You may not notice a problem until the top surfaces of the leaves turn powdery, but powdery mildew can also affect the lower leaf surface, stems, flowers, buds and even the fruit.


Although powdery mildew is unattractive, it is rarely fatal. However it does stress the plant and severe or repetitive infections will weaken the plant. If enough of the leaf surface becomes covered with powdery mildew, photosynthesis is impaired. Infected leaves often fall prematurely. This can be a particular problem on edible crops, since insufficient photosynthesis can diminish the flavor of the fruit or vegetable. If buds become infected, they may not open and mature at all.


Powdery mildew fungi are host specific, meaning the different powdery mildew fungi infect different plants. The powdery mildew on your lilacs will not spread to your grapes or your roses. However all powdery mildews favor the same conditions.

Rhizosphaera Needlecast

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Rhizosphera Needlecast The disease is usually first evident on lower branches and then works upward gradually. Second-year needles turn a purple or brown color and eventually fall from the tree. After several successive years of needle loss branches may die. In general, trees appear to die from the bottom upward. In some cases, however, infections start higher on the tree, giving the appearance of scattered dead areas. The disease can be diagnosed by looking at the discolored needles with a magnifying glass or hand lens. Small black spots (fruiting structures of the fungus) appear in rows on the infected needles. The fungus is actually emerging from the stomata (natural pore-like openings) that occur in lines on all sides of a spruce needle. Green needles may show these small black fruiting structures.


Blue spruce trees are susceptible to an infectious needle disease caused by the fungus Rhizosphaera. White spruce trees are classified as intermediate in susceptibility to the disease and Norway spruce are relatively resistant.

Spider Mites

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Spider Mites Spider mites are an extremely small pest, and generally appear as brown, red, or purple specks on the underside of leaves. Mites infest leaves and cause the leaves to appear speckled with yellow spots or wilted and curled. A fine silken webbing can sometimes be seen on the underside of the leaves. Intense infestations during hot, dry weather can cause leaf drop.


Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Spider Mites

Spider mites damage trees by sucking sap from the underside of the leaves. The bite marks appear as a yellow speckled pattern on the top and bottom of the leaf. As the season progresses and the temperature becomes hotter and dryer (above 70 degrees F), the population of spider mites will increase exponentially and can rapidly defoliate a tree, especially if the tree is having trouble taking up water during drought periods. Often, a tree being attacked by spider mites appears to be dripping, because as insects suck the sap from the leaves, they produce a liquid honeydew, which is the undigested sugars. The honeydew gives the leaves a sticky feel and a wet look.

Two Lined Chesnut Borer

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Two Line Chestnut Borer The first symptom of a two line chestnut borer attack is usually wilted foliage appearing on scattered branches during late summer.  The foliage on infested branches wilts prematurely, turns brown, but remains attached to the branches for several weeks or months before dropping. Such branches will die and produce no foliage in the next year. Note the D shaped exit hole on the two lined chestnut borer as observed on the bark surface of the tree trunk.


Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Two Line Chestnut Borer Trees can be killed in the first year of attack; however, death usually occurs after 2 to 3 successive years of borer infestation. Typically, the crown is attacked during the first year, with the remaining live portions of the branches and trunk being infested during the second and third years.  We offer trunk injections to treat the tree and prevent and/or kill the insect that is attacking it.

Zimmerman Pine Moth

Affordable Tree Care Insect & Disease Control Services - Zimmerman Pine Month This moth spends the winter as a young caterpillar in a shallow pit that it digs in the bark. In early April, the caterpillar emerges and begins feeding near branch attachments. Late in June through July when the caterpillars are deep in the trunk, the wounds look gummy and are covered in frass. By early August they emerge as moths and lay eggs on the trunk. Eggs hatch and dig their shallow pits to overwinter.  Any pine tree is susceptible to the Zimmerman pine moth, however those that are drought stressed or non native are most likely to succumb. Trees can be treated with trunk injections or foliar sprays at the correct time of year. 


Symptoms are :

  • Wilting and browning of new foliage.
  • Branch ends wilt and turn downward.
  • Resin masses are visible with white, sawdust sized crumbs near the whorls.
  • Broken leaders where the caterpillars have been feeding.


*Senior Citizen discount available for people over 65. Please inquire at time of estimate.