Ways to fight 6 common evergreen pests & diseases

Ways to fight 6 common evergreen pests & diseases

The first step in pest control is choosing disease-resistant plants. Here are some tactics for when infection strikes, from killing aphids to stopping common fungus.

1. Aphids, white flies and spider mites

  • Aphids, mealy-bugs, leaf hoppers, cottony scale and white flies love to eat leaves and needles.
  • Infested needles and shoot tips become sticky or deformed when plagued with these bugs, and may show sooty mould. Pests could also be visible.
  • Spray with insecticidal soap to kill them. Use soapy water to remove sooty mould.
  • Foliage with spider mites turns yellow, then brown. It may have a purplish tinge.
  • To get rid of little mites, spray forcefully with water, especially undersides. Also apply insecticidal soap every 5 days.

2. Borers and caterpillars

  • Shoots of trees with borers will wilt, become crooked or stunted. They then die rather quickly.
  • To destroy borers, prune out the infected shoots and destroy.
  • Caterpillars, sawfly larvae, gall midges all leave eaten needles, entirely or in part.
  • Apply Bacillus thuringiensis for caterpillars, insecticidal soap or neem for other pests.

3. Canker fungus

  • Cytospora canker fungus causes needles to turn yellow and fall. White resin may appear on the on trunk and branches.
  • Prune the infected branches. In spring, spray 3 times, every 10 days, with copper-based fungicide.

4. Needle cat fungus

  • Needles with this fungus turn yellow in late summer, brown in winter, and eventually drop. It often starts at base and moves up.
  • Needle cast is common in spruce and pines.
  • To help your tree fend it off, spray with a Bordeaux mixture. Spray in summer, 3 times, every 21 days.

5. Rust fungus

  • Several different rusts attack conifers.
  • Infected trees will have dead branches in the crown, white resin on the trunk or yellow patches on its needles.
  • To cure, prune out infected branches and spray with wettable sulphur.

6. Twig blight fungus

  • The telltale sign of this fungus us that shoot tips yellow in fall. Needles will also hang on without falling and black spots can appear on shoots.
  • Prune infected shoots, and spray 3 times with copper fungicide after the needles fall.

If buying a disease-resistant tree doesn’t work, you can try these solutions. They’ll mostly be useful for young trees, but if a tree suffers problems year after year, it’s better to cut it down and replace it with a different species.

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