Tree Terrors: 4 Arboreal Pests and How to Spot Them

You may be constantly on the outlook for threats that could harm you, your family, or your home. However, other things on your property can also be at danger from threats you aren’t even aware of. This is certainly true for your trees. You may assume that trees can easily live for decades, but that’s not necessarily true. Trees can get sick, and they can even be killed. In fact, there are specific pests you should be aware of that can destroy your trees if an infestation develops. Below are four arboreal pests and how to spot them.

Tent Caterpillars

One of the most deadly pests for trees is the tent caterpillar. We usually think of caterpillars as the cute early stage of the harmless butterfly. However, these caterpillars are far from harmless. Tent caterpillars are named such due to the fact that up to 250 of them commune together in a tent-like structure made of silk. While this may sound creepy, the real danger is to anything leafy and green nearby. They can make quick work of every leaf on a tree. Keep a look out for their “tents.”

Gypsy Moths

Even worse are gypsy moths. Like tent caterpillars, gypsy moths eat tree foliage. If a tree loses all of its leaves, it can certainly die. Gypsy moths are such a huge problem that the U.S. government sprays several million acres of trees every year to help suppress outbreaks of gypsy moths. They are that dangerous to forests. Identify them by looking for tan or yellow egg masses on tree trunks.


A third pest you should protect your trees from is the aphid. Aphids are a threat because they create a sweet substance known as “honeydew.” This substance can attract all different kinds of insects to a plant’s leaves. They’ll be quickly devoured. Aphids also spread viruses that can kill different species of trees. If you see signs of an aphid infestation such as sticky, stunted, curled or misshapen leaves, you must act quickly.

Bark Beetles

Lastly, you want to watch out for bark beetles. Bark beetles are a species of insect that reproduce under tree bark. A number of different species of bark beetles can actually target and kill live trees. If you have bark beetles in your area, your trees are certainly at risk. Under certain conditions, they can pose significant threats to entire forests. Identify infestations by looking for pitch tubes on tree trunks.
While trees seem rather inactive, you have to be active in regards to protecting them. This includes protecting them from pests like aphids, bark beetles, gypsy moths, and tent caterpillars. If you don’t, you may be forced to pay for tree removal services. These pests can make trees sick, and they can kill trees if infestations are not dealt with.