APRIL 2016
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Caterpillar Update

2015 was an active year for Winter Moths and Gypsy Moths.  These caterpillars left large areas of Cape Cod and the South Shore defoliated.  Healthy trees and ornamentals can usually tolerate a season or two of defoliation, but repetitive defoliation can lead to tree mortality. Trees that were damaged last season should be protected from defoliation by caterpillars this season.  Special attention should also be paid to proper watering and fertility to maintain plant health and vigor.  So, with this in mind, what is the outlook for this year?
Winter Moth:  Tiny caterpillars usually hatch in mid to late April and immediately seek out the buds of their host plant and begin feeding, many times prior to bud break.  Once the bud opens the caterpillars will usually continue to feed through May and sometimes into early June.  The Winter Moth is a green inchworm that feeds on a wide variety of deciduous plants.

Gypsy Moth: Gypsy moth caterpillars are also green early on but turn brown after a couple weeks.  They typically hatch in early May and are most destructive in June when they become large. Gypsy Moth will consume a wide variety of plant material including evergreens such as White Pine and Spruce.

Prevention and Control - There is no effective way to prevent either of these caterpillars from hatching and potentially causing damage to your ornamental and shade trees. The only effective treatment is to protect the leaves with carefully timed insecticide applications.

For Winter Moth we typically recommend 2 treatments and a 3rd treatment may be necessary if gypsy moth is present. The first will coincide with the hatch of the caterpillars and the bud break of their favorite hosts (late April-first week of May).  A second treatment, 10-14 days later is necessary for three reasons:

1.  Do to our many micro-climates on Cape Cod there is an extended hatch period making the timing of the first spray a bit of a guessing game.
2.  The young caterpillars hang down on silken threads to be blown with the wind to infest new areas far away from the hatch site.  This process is called "ballooning".
3.  Various host plants do not all break buds at the same time.  Therefore, many trees haven't broken bud yet and the leaves may be left unprotected by the first treatment.


Another Lurking Pest -
The Black Turpentine Beetle                 

This dark reddish brown to black beetle is native to Cape Cod.  Female adults locate suitable hosts and begin boring into the bark, attracting males for mating. After mating, an egg gallery is constructed in the sapwood. Approximately 100 eggs are deposited in the gallery. Eggs hatch 10-14 days later and the larvae begin feeding gregariously.

Damage - The first sign of attack by black turpentine beetles are pitch tubes about 1 inch in diameter, found on the lower 6 feet of the tree trunk. As the pitch tubes age, they change from white to reddish to grayish red.  Trees will show symptoms within 3-6 months of attack, ranging from fading of foliage color to tree death. Trees with only a few attacks may only be weakened. The beetle also carries a blue-stain fungus, which will further weaken trees not killed by infestation.

Management - Prevention is an important management strategy to reduce attack. Drought and storm damage can cause widespread stress, making trees susceptible to attack. Other stresses that can increase chance of attack include mower damage, string trimmer damage and pruning just before or during insect activity. Damaged or declining trees should be removed quickly so as not to further attract black turpentine beetles to the area.
We protect high-value pines in the landscape with an insecticide labeled for use against bark beetles applied to the lower six feet of the trunk. Two or more applications may be required.   

To Mulch or Not to Mulch                 

Mulches are important components of sustainable gardens and landscapes.   They help to keep the soil moist and to moderate soil temperature. Mulching also helps to prevent soil compaction, improve aeration and to increase water absorption and retention. Besides the benefits to plants, mulches also make surface areas more attractive and easier to maintain, as they discourage weed growth.

Planting Beds
Maintaining 2" of mulch gives newly planted trees and shrubs a competitive advantage over the lawn grass and weeds helping them to establish quickly. Mulching keeps the soil moist and helps to moderate the soil temperature. A mulched area around the base of trees and shrubs makes mowing easier and helps prevent mower damage to the plant. Broad leaved evergreen shrubs such as azalea, boxwood, Japanese hollies and rhododendrons also benefit from mulching. A 2" layer of mulch will help prevent the soil around the roots from freezing and prevent winter drying which causes foliage to become scotched and discolored over the winter. 

Let our new mulch truck do the job for you!

The Office Corner                  

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Hoxie Landscape Services, Inc.
25 Jan Sebastian Drive
Sandwich, MA  02563                                                                        "The Earth is
508-888-6272 or 800-499-4680                                                          what we all
FAX 508-888-4699                                                                              have in common"
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