Common Tree and Shrub Pests


Aphids are a family of small sap-sucking insects that come in many shapes and colors. They suck juices from leaves and stems, causing discoloration, leaf curling, yellowing, and stunted growth. Large infestations will produce a sticky, sugary waste called honeydew which can cause other issues such as attracting insects like ants and fueling fungus growth on the plant surfaces. Roses and sunflowers are especially susceptible to aphids but they can infest a number of different landscaping plants, shrubs and trees.

Spider mites

Spider Mites are tiny insects that can become a large problem. They can quickly infest a plant and cause significant damage before you even know they are there. The first sign of spider mites will be the webbing that looks very similar to spider webs. The mites then suck out the fluids from individual plant cells leaving a speckled appearance to the foliage. If left untreated, the mites can lead to premature leaf drop and, eventually, death of the plant.

Tent caterpillars

Tent caterpillars are a species of the moth family and are identifiable for being hairy with blue, white, black, and orange areas. The caterpillars will not only decimate foliage off the trees but they’ll create tent-like, webbed nests on south-facing branches and trees. As they leave their nests to get food, these little critters will trail silk and pheromones to that food source, which recruits more tent caterpillars to come to that tree. 

Tent caterpillars

Japanese beetles

Japanese beetles are known for eating plant foliage on garden plants and ornamental landscaping plants. Japanese beetles start their life cycle as grubs in the lawn. The initial signs of an infestation are:

  • Brown spots.
  • Irregularly shaped dead patches due to the grubs eating the lawn’s root system.
  • Increased animal activity in the yard.
  • Spongy turf.

Once they pupate into beetles, they will infest garden plants and ornamental plants and destroy the foliage.

Japanese beetle


Lacebugs, not to be confused with the beneficial lacewings, are identifiable by their white/cream, pale color, and their uniquely patterned exoskeleton that resembles the famous cloth that is their namesake. The adult and immature lace bugs feed on the undersides of leaves on trees and shrubs. These little bugs create small white, or yellow mottled spots on the upper leaf surface and can significantly diminish the foliage of the tree that they infest.

Leaf Miner

Leaf Miners are insects known to affect the amount of chlorophyll in the leaf, causing leaves to fall off. The tell-tale sign of leaf miners is finding random squiggly patterns on the leaves of your trees/shrubs. Leaf miners themselves generally look similar to house flies, black or grey in color with yellow stripes, and clear wings. A badly infested tree can lose a lot of its leaves which can affect plant growth for the following seasons.


Scale are sap-sucking insects common for almost all plants, including major trees and shrubs. These very tiny insects are mostly immobile and give the plant stem a bumpy appearance (almost like barnacles). Infestations can take up to 6 weeks from eggs hatching to maturity; which can blindside some homeowners when they realize their tree has been infested and didn’t know until the plant showed signs of decline. 

Spongy Moths

Spongy Moths (formerly known as Gypsy Moths) caterpillars are probably the most well-known invasive species and can cause an immense amount of damage to your trees. The caterpillars decimate tree foliage and create a mess for homeowners with a near-constant shower of feces during their peak months. Spongy Moth caterpillars will most often damage birch, maple, and beech trees.

Spongy Moth


Thrips are slender, tiny insects that have narrow, fringed wings. They appear as tiny dark slivers on your plants and trees. The damage they cause looks like streaks, silvery speckling, and small white patches on leaves. Thrips are also known to leave black excrement spots along with yellow-speckled damaged areas on leaves. Thrips aren’t known for killing trees but can decimate landscaping and ornamental plants if left untreated. The signs of thrips often look like the signs of a fungal or viral infection and they themselves can spread those infections to your plants. 

Mealy Bug

Mealybugs are insects found in moist, warm environments. These pests are known for feeding on plant juices of houseplants, fruits, and ornamental plants and can be vectors for several diseases. These soft-bodied, wingless insects will often appear white and cottony, almost like white fuzz. They can cause leaf wilting and curling as the plant weakens from the sap-sucking. 

Emerald Ash Borers

Emerald Ash Borers (EAB) are an invasive species from Asia that have killed millions of ash trees in the United States. EABs start their life cycle as a larva that feeds between the sapwood and the bark creating a unique zig-zag pattern. The feeding of the larva cuts off the nutrient supply to the tree and eventually kills it. The first signs of an EAB infestation are yellowing and thinning foliage, shoots or suckers emerging at the base of the tree, increased seed production, D-shaped holes in the bark, and increased insect-eating bird activity.

Traces left by Emerald Ash Borers

If you are battling any of these insects in your landscaping, All Green can help. Give us a call to find out what we can do to keep your landscaping looking its best!

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