birch problems?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by lawnboy82, Jul 27, 2001.

  1. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    hi everyone. i have another insect, or possibly disease question. last fall, or late summer i had gone to a townhouse complex and noticed lace bugs on a lot of the white birches over there. the whole place was infested. i sprayed for them and there were no more problems as far as i could tell. i went back there this spring to talk with the owner, and about 1/3 the tree had been defoliated. i have been driving around over the past months and have noticed the same thing happening with other white birches in the local area. they are partly or mostly defoliated. the lack of leaves is clear cut, not sparatic, but half a tree will be lacking leaves, or an individual leader will have the whole top bare. the problem is appearing in multiple towns, any thoughts from you guys as to what causes this? the trees i am seeing this problem in are about 20' tall. drop me a line if you have noticed this as well.
  2. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    White Birch (Betula papyrifera) are " first growth trees " and generally have a shelf life of about 25 years. I believe that there are over 200 insects that feed on this tree, chances are you are seeing damage from more than one type of insect.

    One book that will help you with pest diagnosis, along with sending in samples to a qualified testing center, is:

    Insects That Feed On Trees and Shrubs, By Warren T. Johnson and Howard H. Lyon.

    Even if you don't like to read there are lots of pictures.:p

    Good Luck,
    Jim L
  3. CMerLand

    CMerLand LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 393

    99% sure what your seeing is Birch Leaf miner and at this point in the year your options are very limited in attempting to control them.

    Birch leaf miner feed between the leaf surfaces. Eggs are laid late april and hatch early may. The larvea feed on the birch leaves tunneling around inside leaving the leaf with a burnt brown look. If you hold them up to the light you will see the dark speck inside the leaf and thats your critter.

    Mid season the minors will burrow out and fall to the ground to continue their life cycle. The birches will generally have a second flush of growth to replace the damaged leaves and sure enough the second generation will attack these.

    They severely weaken the tree and make susceptible to bronze birch borer which is what is killing the top half of the tree and will continue to kill their way down the tree till its dead.

    Talk to your extension service for best control methods in your area.


    PS. This is the most basic of insect problems and for someone who does tree work, should be a no-brainer. Investigate these things yourself by visiting your extension service and you will gain far more education then you can from looking for the easy answer on lawnsite.
  4. lawnboy82

    lawnboy82 Banned
    Messages: 957

    thanx. however the trees were already defoliated in about april. possibly may. it was not damaged leaves. it was a complete lack of leaves. the damage was very defined, and i do not believe that it spread. it is wierd. i thought originally that i had poisoned the trees. but then i saw it on more plants. was there a big problem with them last year?
  5. greens1

    greens1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 352

    Could be borer damage from the previous season, or any one of the numerous diseases that hit Paper Birch. If you are losing entire branch sections, but a branch that is right next to the damaged branch looks healthy, then it may be borers.

    Birch are rarely worth the effort and expense it takes to keep them alive, I don't say this lightly or without reason.

    Birch are naturally short lived. This means that by treating with pesticide and a good fert. program you may extend the life of the tree 10 or 15 years, and it will be that much bigger and more costly to cut down.

    If you have a large number of Paper Birch, especially if they were planted arround the same time, you should really cheak out an ISA or NSA certified arborist to help ID the pest, and provide a repacement program spaning several years.

    Most condo boards will see the wisdom of not loosing a large number of trees all at once, which is what will happen if the Birch are not replaced.

    Good Luck,
    Jim L
  6. kutnkru

    kutnkru LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,662

    We have many many birches in our areas that have been affected with the defoliated tops.

    I tend to think that it is L.B.M. as CMerLand has indicated. Several of the Tree Care professionals in our area have pointed fingers in that direction. If I had to give an educated guess I would follow in that direction first, and then check into the borrers if there are no visible signs.

    Good Luck!
  7. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    This sounds like typical borer damage. Check the bark below the dead branch and you will see small D shaped holes in the bark and if you look very closely you will also see a small raised tunnels that girdle the tree. Unfortunatly there really isn,t any way to treat this pest and you may as well consider the tree toast. Cmerland is exactly right in his diagnosis. Borer always goes for weak trees. I will never plant a birch without inspecting it closely because I have been finding it in nearly all of the nursery stock I have used. If you find it, don't accept the plant!

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