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Tree doctor.

Worrisome Worms

Q: I live in Minneapolis, MN and many of my trees have had some trouble with worms this year. They are green/brown worms that hang down from the trees by a strand of silk. They also seem to be wrapping the trees with silk. The trees are mainly pines, but I do see them in my maples as well. We did have a large oak and one of these pines die last year from an unknown cause. I didn't notice the worm problem then, but could have been that. Any thoughts on what these worms are, and if they are dangerous to the trees? Should I have them treated or can I treat them myself? Any information and suggestions would be appreciated.

Thank you very much,

Bethany Bartels

A: The phenomenon of worms floating from a silk strand is called ballooning. Many insects display this behavior, so you need to determine the type to know how to react. Your best course of action is to take one of the critters to your county extension service for identification. The type it is will determine the appropriate treatment.

Evergreens To Browns

Q: I have observed that the evergreen trees and shrubs here are turning brown. Some have turned entirely brown, and only on one side. This is in Bedford, MA and surrounding towns, and when we recently traveled to the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Is this an infestation of insects or disease? What can we do about it? Thank you for your help.

--Rachel Lewis Murphy

A: Your question refers to evergreens, but many pests are specific to one species of trees so the answer could be more specific if you can narrow down the species. If you observed the browning in hemlocks, the probable cause is hemlock wooly adelgid, which is prevalent in much of the northeast. In pines, the white pine weevil or the Zimmerman pine moth are possible culprits. If you observed the problem in all types of evergreens along highways, the problem could be the result of salt spray.


Q: I live in Palm Beach Country Estates, Palm Beach County, Florida. Our community recently had water lines put in. All properties have the availability of having their house hooked up to city water. In my property's case, all water routes to the house require disturbing Florida Slash Fine roots. The large pine that would be most in danger is approximately 5-6 feet from a concrete driveway. The route for the water will most likely be within a foot of the driveway, so 4-5 feet from the pine. The pipe will be buried approximately a foot deep.

I love all my trees; losing them to the beetles is bad enough, and losing one because we, would like to have city water would hurt even more. What are the chances that the tree will survive some side roots being cut?

--Thanks for your help,

Renee Sayles

A: If only small roots (less than 2 inches in diameter) are cut, then it would not be as shocking to the tree. If at all possible, see if they can tunnel under the roots (3-4 feet deep) to install the water line. Also, you should hire a professional tree care company to treat the trunks with a preventive insecticide to protect against borer attacks.

Wye Oak Suckers

Q: We have a Wye Oak that is about 30-35 years old, grown from a seedling of the famous Maryland Wye Oak Tree. Over the years, it has developed a lot of suckers on the branches, and squirrels have been chewing off portions of young branches to form nests up in the tree. There are also a few dead branches high up in the tree which we plan on having removed. Otherwise it is very healthy.

We've had one arborist tell us we should have these sucker branches removed up to the first fork in the branch, while another has told us to leave them alone. Both arborists recommended fertilizing the tree, but one says he'll use a slow releasing semi-liquid fertilizer shot into the ground, while the other says he'll drill down and pour 10-10 dry fertilizer in so it can be absorbed gradually.

I would very much appreciate your opinion on whether these sucker leaves and branches should be removed, and also whether the liquid or dry fertilizer is the best way to go.

Lastly, from time to time I find young oak trees growing in my garden beds. I've tried potting them after they get a few inches tall, but they don't seem to survive, and if I leave them in the bed, the squirrels generally kill them. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can save these?

--Thank you very much for your help.

Pat Wentworth

A: The Davey arborist recommends removing the suckers from your Wye Oak and fertilizing with a slow release formula. As for the seedlings that are sprouting in your garden, the best way to guard them from squirrels is to protect them with hardware cloth or chicken wire fencing.

Pruning Fruit Trees

Q: I have a dwarf peach tree and a dwarf cherry tree. 1 always have trouble knowing where and when to prune branches. The peach tree is two years old, and it looks great. I'm very happy with it's growth, and I only use natural fertilizer and spray. Same with the cherry tree. Then, I start getting scared about when to how to prune, to shape it for looks and maximum fruit.

--Thank you. James

A: The best time to prune your fruit trees is in the fall, and you will get better fruiting results if you prune away smaller twigs back to a main branch.

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Publication:American Forests
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2009
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