When was the last time you really looked at your trees? It’s all too easy to just enjoy their cool shade and the sound of their leaves, but if you don’t know what to look for you could miss deadly diseases or dastardly demons lurking in their leaves and branches. A quick check can help you stop a problem before it kills your tree or your local forest!
National Tree Check Month is the perfect time to make sure your tree is in tip-top shape! Our checklist will help you spot early warning signs of native pests and pathogens and invasive pests like Asian longhorned beetle, spotted lanternfly, and sudden oak death. You can stop invasive pests in their tracks by reporting them if you see them.
Is your tree healthy and normal?
Start by making sure you know the type of tree you have. Is it a deciduous tree like an oak or maple? Or is it an evergreen that like a spruce or a pine? Don’t worry about exactly what species it is. It’s enough for you to have a general sense of what the tree should look like when it’s healthy.
Check the leaves
- Are the leaves yellow, red or brown?
- Are they spotted or discolored?
- Do the leaves look distorted or disfigured?
- Is there a sticky liquid on the leaves?
- Do the leaves appear wet, or give off a foul odor?
- Are leaves missing?
- Are parts of the leaves chewed?
Check the trunk and branches
- Are there holes or splits in the trunk or branches?
- Is the bark peeling from a tree that shouldn’t shed its bark?
- Are there tunnels or unusual patterns under the bark?
- Is there sawdust on or under the tree?
- Is there sap oozing down the tree?
- Does the sap have a bad odor?
- Do sticky drops fall on you when you stand under the tree? You might have spotted lanternfly. Please report it right away!
If you answered YES to any of the questions above, there’s a good chance something is wrong. To decide if and how you should treat or report the problem, you’ll need to have a tentative diagnosis. Luckily, there are many ways to get one!
Know the tree species? Use the Purdue Tree Doctor to get a diagnosis and a recommendation on whether treating or reporting is needed. This app allows you to flip through photos of problem plagued leaves, branches and trunks to help you rapidly identify the problem. If you have an invasive pest, it will guide you how to report it.
Don’t know the tree species and still need help? Reach out to local experts. We’re happy to help!
- Purdue Cooperative Extension Service (https://extension.purdue.edu/) can answer your questions or direct you to a local tree care professional with the right expertise.
- Contact an arborist who can give you an assessment of your tree and specific treatment recommendations (https://www.treesaregood.org/findanarborist).
Confused but think something is TERRIBLY WRONG? Contact Purdue’s Exotic Forest Pest Educator, report online, or call 1-866-NOEXOTIC.