4 Pests that Feed on Birch Trees

Category: Tree Care

white birchWhat pests feed on my Birch?

Birch trees are beautiful. They provide beautiful, green leaves during most of the year and vibrant yellow color in the Fall. As they age, their bark exfoliates, even providing interest in the landscape in the Winter. There are some pests that feed on birch; you should keep your eyes peeled.

What types of Birch are most common?

In our area, we see two main varieties of Birch trees used in landscape design on both residential and commercial landscaping projects. The standard, European White Birch that was commonly used decades ago, is now difficult to find. Landscapers have moved to using River Birches because of better resistance to certain insect problems. The River Birch appears very similar to the White Birch varieties, with the main distinction being the color of the bark. River Birch have a tan bark with subtle orange highlights versus the white and grays of the White Birch.

clump river birchMaintenance Considerations with Birch Trees

There are some maintenance considerations to keep in mind if you have Birch trees on your property. You’ll want to find a tree service that does tree trimming for these trees every few years to raise lower branches and to thin out the crown of the tree. Also keep in mind that a Birch tree’s natural habitat is near a body of water, so these trees won’t take very kindly to drought situations, and will drop a lot of leaves and become stressed if not regularly watered in the hot months of summer.

Which pests feed on my Birch that I should know about?

There are also a few pest issues of concern with Birch trees that can be maintained fairly easy with the help of a Certified Arborist performing Tree and Shrub Care applications throughout the year to keep your trees healthy. Pest issues include:

japanese beetle

Japanese Beetles

These flying insects will appear sometime towards the end of June to the beginning of July, depending upon temperatures. They love to feed on Birch trees and can skeletonize leaves in a short period of time. Getting a tree service to perform a soil-applied systemic insecticide injection in the spring. This material will be taken up as the tree takes up water for its leaves. It will stay in the tree for the remainder of the year. If Japanese Beetle populations are considerable, spraying trees is also advised for Japanese Beetle control. It also helps with other pests as you’ll see below.

borer damage on birch

Borers

Wood-boring insect larvae are a big concern for any tree, but particularly for Birch trees. It’s very common to see a Birch tree that has been stressed for a number of years be finished off by Bronze Birch Borers. Performing an annual soil injection of insecticide will help to greatly reduce borer damage. Just remember, borers loved stressed trees. Keep your tree healthy all-around and that will also help.

holly leafminer

Leafminers

This small larvae actually hatches and tunnels within the leaf tissue of all sorts of trees and shrubs. Spraying trees can help to control this pest in a pinch, but the best method to control leafminers is to perform a soil injection in the spring as well. This will help the leaves on Birch trees to not get that ugly, tunneled appearance.

aphids on leaf

Aphids

There are many species of aphids that will feed on all sorts of trees, shrubs, and flowers in your landscape. These small insects often target new leaf and shoot growth, piercing plant tissues and sucking vital nutrients out of the plant. Their excrement is often sticky and will be a good medium for growing mold that can block sunlight from plant cells and also will attract all sorts of ants and bees. These pests can be easily controlled by spraying with insecticidal soaps, horticultural oil, and/or insecticides.

Bonus – Spotted LanternflyTwo adult spotted lanternflies on a tree.

This invasive pest from Southeast Asia acts like a mosquito for your trees. It sucks the sap from the tree, creating wounds in the bark. This can impact the internal “pressure” in the tree (like your blood pressure), and hurt your birch’s long-term health. In addition, Spotted Lanternfly excrement causes the growth of black sooty mold on plants, patios, and furniture near the trees where they are feeding. You can read more about this invasive pest here.

Conclusion

As you can see, if you have a tree service perform a soil injection in the spring, keep your Birch tree watered in summer, and have a tree pruning service clean it up once and awhile, the Birch tree can be a beautiful addition to your landscape with minimal maintenance considerations. If you’d like help with Birch trees or any other trees on your property, or would like to talk to someone about planting trees on your property, we’d be happy to talk with you.


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