Even here in Forney, Texas, where our temperatures are milder and winters much shorter, we still have to worry about old man winter and the dilemmas it brings. One of those issues involves overwintering pests invading your trees. As fall progresses and the hot sun of summer cools down, your deciduous trees will begin to prepare for the upcoming season. Once they lose their leaves, they will go dormant or stop growing. Instead of exerting wasted energy during times of cold, they conserve their energy for when spring returns. Unfortunately, insects such as aphids, mites, and scales have been seeking out trees and shrubs in which to lay their eggs, hoping they survive throughout the winter. When spring arrives, they too will awaken, hatch and feed on your beloved trees.
The best way to protect your trees and shrubs from the damage caused by these pests is through dormant oil. It is a natural yet effective way to eliminate pests from your plants and prevent them from returning.
Dormant oil is a highly refined, natural mix of petroleum oil and water. There are a few mixes that replace petroleum oil with cottonseed oil, but both are effective. Once mixed, it is applied directly to the plant or tree to prevent and eliminate any soft-bodied insects, such as aphids, mealy worms, thrips, whiteflies, mites, and scales from infesting your trees and shrubs over the winter. It is not poisonous or harmful to humans and doesn’t harm wildlife. Instead of poisoning the targeted pest, it creates a thin layer of film, covering the pests’ breathing tubes, eventually killing the targeted pest.
Here in Texas, applications of dormant oils are directed primarily at killing overwintering pests, specifically scales, and aphids before they can become active in the spring and cause plant injury. Let’s talk a bit about each of these insects and why they can be so detrimental to your trees and shrubs.
What Are Scale Insects?
Scale insects are flat, round, and have either a hard or soft waxy covering. These little buggers are hard to spot and can often go unnoticed. They fall into two categories, armored and soft scales, but both use their piercing mouthparts to extract sap from trees. If you’re looking for them, you may see them as tiny bumps on tree branches and twigs.
Why Are Scale Insects Harmful to Your Forney, Texas Trees?
The constant feeding of soft scales can cause leaves to turn yellow, wither, and fall off. Severe infestations can damage or kill twigs. Soft scales also produce a sticky substance called honeydew that leads to the growth of black, sooty mold. This honeydew can ruin decks, patio furniture, and other landscape surfaces.
What Are Aphids and Why Are They So Harmful?
Aphids can be even more of a nuisance simply because of their fast reproduction rate. They are soft-bodied insects found clustered together on the leaves of trees and shrubs. Like scale insects, hungry aphids feed on plant sap and leave behind a similar sticky honeydew. They are almost always green or yellow, and their antennae are slightly shorter than their body. The first sign of an aphid infestation is leaves curling up, turning brown, and eventually dying off.
So how can dormant oil help? Dormant oil is typically a spray that is applied to the branches and twigs of trees and shrubs. The use of dormant oil in the fall before these pesky insects start to overwinter can be highly effective at preventing infestations. Applications either suffocate or block the breathing pores of these vile critters preventing them from further destroying your lawn ornaments. While you can purchase dormant oil at your local home goods or garden store, it can be tricky. Choosing the correct oil is essential. Different trees require different oils, and using dormant oil for your oak tree may damage your apple tree. Because of this, we recommend calling in a local tree care professional who knows your local climate, the different types of trees native to your area, and who have been trained on how to use and spray applications of dormant oil.
Your friends at LawnLab offer dormant oil protection in the fall as part of our tree and shrub care program. We apply a foliar application of dormant oil to your trees and shrubs while your plants are dormant. This will help prevent spring infestations over the winter. Our tree and shrub care program is a season-long service that begins in the spring and runs through late fall. It includes spring root deep fertilization, insect and disease control, and dormant oil. You can learn more about this highly effective program by visiting our website or contacting us now. Call us at 1-866-529-6522 or get a free online quote using our online contact us form.