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by Steve Castrogiovanni

We have heard for years of the impending doom of the white, green and black ash that are native to the mid-Atlantic area, due to the Emerald Ash Borer. In the last year, this ominous prediction has come true. This can be seen in places like Clara Barton Parkway along the Potomac River, which has always been green and lush. It now has dead tree canopies littered throughout the tree line.

Sadly, ash are being killed in staggering numbers by this pest. What people aren’t taking in to account is how quickly these trees are becoming a threat to the public. Dr. John Ball from South Dakota State University says “Moisture contents go from 80% on a recently infested tree to less than 40% on one standing dead.  The girdling by the insect causing the roots to decline, hence water uptake is reduce but there is also some drying of localized sapwood independent from the roots dying.  Essentially the trees become brittle and fall sooner than expected. ”

Trees being attacked by Emerald Ash Borer do have distinctive signs.

  1. D shaped exit holes
  2. Discoloration of the bark
  3. Epicormic growth from the base (sucker growth)

Image 1. (Left) D Shaped exit holes (Center) Discolored bark from birds feeding on borers (right) Epicormic growth on canopy interior

It is important to have an arborist inspect your ash trees to determine if they are infested. Mead Tree & Turf Care, Inc. offers preventative treatments if your ash tree is not currently infested. A declining ash does not always mean Emerald Ash Borer. The Banded Ash Clear Wing attacks ash trees that are under stress and will also leave exit holes which are large and circular. The Emerald Ash Borer attack ash trees regardless of their health.


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by Tina Graver

The first signs of the Eastern Tent Caterpillar emerged just last week: small, silk webs in the branch unions of their favorite tree, the black cherry. The silk webs provide a safe place for the caterpillars to hide in the night and digest all of the cherry leaves they have consumed during the day. Over the next month, the caterpillars will diligently feed, sometimes to the point that the host tree is completely defoliated.  On a usual year, the cherry trees are able to fully recover from an early defoliation. However, every ten years the Eastern Tent Caterpillar has a heavy population outbreak and will move to other trees such as Peach, plum, witch hazel, beech, birch, willow and poplar. During these outbreaks, these other trees may become weakened or killed.

Now is the time to call your certified arborist if you have any of this caterpillars favorite trees.  The earlier an arborist can intervene, the sooner leaf loss can be intercepted. Cultural control includes simply pruning out the tent or by ripping out the tent. The market has several organic chemical control options available to licensed commercial applicators. The sooner in the insects’ life-cycle that the application is made, the greater the chance of control and the lesser the chance of needing to return with a stronger pesticide. At Mead Tree & Turf Care, we prioritize early intervention and use the recommendations of the Maryland Extension Service to carefully time our chemical applications.

For clients that are new to the area, and are not used to dealing with this pest, May can be an alarming time. Once the large, mature caterpillars are finished feeding, they migrate downward, out of the trees. At this time, they can swarm yards, porches and even cars as they search for a place to pupate into a light-brown colored moth. Unfortunately, this really isn’t the time to try and control this caterpillar. Calling an Arborist at this time, however, can ensure an early intervention during the next growing season.

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by Tina Graver, ISA Certified Arborist MA-5527A
April 2017                                                                                       


It is springtime and the landscapes are looking full and lush! Fresh mulch has been put down and the bees are buzzing.  So what is going on with that Nellie Stevens Holly?  It is yellowing on the inside and the fresh mulch is now all but buried in a shower of yellow/brown leaves (Image 1). For an arborist at Mead Tree and Turf Care, Inc, the springtime rarely passes without at least one phone call from a client worrying about their evergreen trees. But, rest assured, this is perfectly normal.


Image 1. Nellie Stevens Holly losing 3-year old leaves in April 2017. (Left) Yellow leaves on interior of tree are visible (Right) Holly tree leaves covering fresh mulch.


It isn’t just the Holly trees causing alarm. Other species of evergreen trees produce cones in the spring that can look like bugs, disease or simply tip dieback (Image 2). Furthermore, as the new candles emerge (Candles refer to the group of needles of evergreen trees), they push off the protective covering which turns brown as they are no longer connected to live tissue.  What makes this even more confusing is that trees planted in a group, or trees lining a walkway or driveway, may not produce these cones all at once. Slight differences in climate can occur over a very small area. For example, the right side of the driveway may receive more sun. Or the trees closest to the street may experience slightly warmer temperatures. In effect, the cones and/or leaf drop may not happen at the same time for all the trees on the property. Instead, it may appear that ‘something’ is moving ‘through’ the trees, infecting one tree at a time (or only the trees in a certain section of the yard).

Image 2. Evergreen trees producing cones in the springtime. From a distance, this can look like dead tips or some kind of pest or disease.  (Left) A Cryptomeria with cones (top right) a chamaecyparis with cones (bottom right) spruce with cones.


Finally, evergreen trees are generally not thought of as producing fruit. On occasion, a homeowner may confuse the inconspicuous fruits as a pest or disease. Whatever the case, at Mead Tree and Turf Care, Inc., we encourage our clients to always call our office and schedule a meeting with a Certified Arborist. While everything listed so far is perfectly normal, an Arborist will be able to tell when something isn’t right. Spring is a good time to have your trees evaluated for health. Often, a health issue that is intercepted in the spring may mean that a tree will be able to survive the stresses during the summer months.


Image 3. Berries on a juniper in April 2017 may look like a pest or disease to the untrained eye.