Insects / Diseases / Invasives / Miscellaneous / Forest Pest Coop
Insects are vital to the health of plants and animals although only a
fraction of the insects active in the environment are noticeable to the casual
observer. It is for this and many other reasons that integrated pest management
methods be used in dealing with insects. Like the term “weeds”, insect pests
should be reserved for those insects causing unreasonable problems to the
products we are trying to produce.
A list of common tree insects is available below. However, many factors can make trees more susceptible to insects. These include: heat, drought, flooding, lightning, animal damage, construction damage, soil compaction, wildfire, among others. Often the best way to prevent insect tree infestation is to keep trees healthy. Urban foresters and certified arborists receive training to care for individual trees. Resource or district foresters and consulting foresters receive training on improving the health of stand of trees or a forest.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) relies on a combination of
common-sense practices which take an effective and environmentally sensitive
approach. In agricultural and forestry settings, IPM takes advantage of
pesticide application, mechanical methods, and biological methods. Sometimes
the most economical approach can be no control at all. As insect pests are
discussed for trees, range, and crop damage, please follow the four steps of
IPM. These include: Set Action Thresholds, Monitor and Identify Pests,
Prevention, and Control. More information on IPM is available at http://ipm.tamu.edu.
Tree and Forest Pests
Most people think that wildfires cause most of the tree mortality in our
forests. A study of forest tree mortality factors indicates that in the United
States, insects account for 41% and diseases cause 26% of the tree mortality.
Put another way, insects and diseases together are responsible for killing two
out of every three trees that die in our nation's forests. In general, with
respect to insect and disease pests, keep in mind that healthy trees are usually
much less susceptible to pest damage. Especially in urban areas, many times it
is the activities of people that compromise the health of trees and make them
vulnerable to insects and diseases.
Commonly classified as defoliators or borers, defoliator insects often either
attack a tree's food source (the leaves) and borer insects attack a tree's water
and nutrient transport system (between the bark and the wood). Many insects
also feed on wood; however, this usually happens on already sick, dying or dead
trees. A final category of problem insects could be called transporters. The
main example of this is the nitidulid beetle which carries the Oak Wilt fungus
on its body. The beetle leaves an Oak Wilt infected red oak with fungal spores
on its body. It then flies to a healthy oak starting a new disease center.
With an expanding global economy, the likelihood of importing (or exporting)
forest pests is greatly increased. Gypsy moth was imported from Europe around
1870 and has become a serious defoliator of eastern hardwood trees. More
recently, the Asian longhorned beetle (from China) has caused the death of many
trees in New York City and Chicago. Other imported forest pests, like the pine
shoot beetle and the emerald ash borer, are causing concern in other parts of
the United States and are literally knocking on the door of Texas. If you come
across an insect or disease you can't identify or observe the unexpected death
of native trees (particularly ash or walnut trees), please contact the Texas A&M Forest Service office or county extension agent in your area. You may be the
first to detect an unwanted invasive insect
Other Pine Insect Pests
Pine Engraver Beetles (Ips Beetles)
Southern Pine Beetle (SPB)
Information on several tree diseases is available to print or download as a Forest Management Information Sheet.