Well what a spring we have had! The wintermoth caterpillar has come and gone, and in some areas left quite a wake of destruction. Areas that were hit hard included Boxford, Lynnfield, Topsfield, Saugus, Manchester, and others. I have seen many properties with 60 foot tall red oaks without a leaf on them. Complete defoliation. Red oak seemed to take the hardest hit this spring, while sugar maple and cherry also seemed to be preferred. Norway maples seemed to suffer less damage this year than in the past, although I’m not sure why this is. Anyone that had significant damage to their trees this spring from wintermoth caterpillar should get onto a treatment program for next year, as the pest will likely be back in higher numbers next spring. For now, the caterpillr has dropped to the ground to begin its pupation, until it emerges as an adult moth this fall.
So what do you do now? If your tree did suffer damage by the caterpillars, now is the time to consider some remedial action. The trees that were heavily damaged will need to refoliate. This causes a large drain of energy reserves from the tree, which can leave it susceptible to secondary invaders and pathogens. If the tree continues to get defoliated in the next 2-3 years, you may see the tree go into decline. Begin treating the tree(s) with a bio-stimulant now, to strengthen the root system. Water the tree(s) this summer when it gets hot and dry to reduce stress. A fertilization in the fall may be advised if the tree is not too stressed. Consult your certified arborist to inspect and diagnose your trees for a more complete forecast.
On the horizon for insect activity is our typical summer pests, like Japanese beetles, lacebugs, and spidermites. Since temperatures have been cool, these pests have not been very active yet, but keep scouting your shrubs and trees for these guys.
As always, Mayer Tree Service is here for your tree care needs.