How Proper Tree Care Can Prevent Pest Infestations
Nov 22, 2021
Low hanging branch on dying tree

Most homeowners in Virginia are well acquainted with the many pests that can infest their homes: spiders, ants, termites, roaches, beetles…the list goes on and on. What many residents don’t understand is how their trees can attract some of these pests and the damage these insects can do to them.

Below, we’ll discuss how tree maintenance in Virginia can be an integral part of your pest management strategy. We’ll also go over how crucial pest management is to the health of the trees on your property.

How Can Trees Attract Pests to Your Home?

There are several ways your trees can introduce pests to your property and house, whether the trees are alive or dead.

Hanging Branches Allow Pests Access to Your Home

Trees benefit the ecosystem because they provide a home to many different insects—like ants, roaches, and spiders—as well as birds and rodents. Unfortunately, low-hanging branches can act as a bridge between your tree and your home, allowing insects and animals to gain easy access to your roof, gutters, and potentially the interior of your home.

Specifically, the Tidewater area is a hot spot for roof rats, which use overhanging limbs to get onto your roof. These rodents can make their way inside your home as well and take up shelter in your attics and crawl spaces. Insects traveling along overhanging branches can also infiltrate your home and cause costly damage over time.

If you have trees near your house, it’s crucial to keep hanging branches away from the roof, siding, and gutters. Calling in a professional arborist to trim these branches back safely at least once a year is best to help manage pest infestations and the threat of roof rats on your property.

Damaged Trees Can Attract Invasive Species

There are a number of invasive insect species in Virginia, including the spotted lanternfly, the emerald ash borer, and the Asian longhorn beetle. These insects can all cause severe damage to trees and even kill them in a matter of weeks or months.

Like most tree-destroying insects, these invasive species are attracted to dead, dying, and stressed trees. Maintaining your trees with adequate watering, mulching around the base, and professional pruning once a year is an excellent way to limit the insects that infest your property.

Tree Stumps Can Attract Termites

Finally, many homeowners in the Hampton Roads area who have trees removed opt to leave the stump behind to save money. Unfortunately, this often results in more money paid for property damages down the road.

Tree stumps and root systems left behind will slowly rot, and nothing is more enticing to termites and carpenter ants than rotting wood. Eventually, these wood-destroying insects will deplete the resources left behind in the stump and move onto the next available wood source: your home.

Removing stumps and rotting root systems is one of the easiest ways to reduce pest infestation in your home and the damage that often results from carpenter and termite infestations.

How Do Insects Damage Trees?

In addition to considering how your trees might be attracting insects to your home in Virginia, you’ll also need to think about how the pests can damage your trees, putting you, your family, and your home at risk.

Insects Can Kill Trees

Native and invasive insect species in Virginia—like the spotted lanternfly, carpenter ants, and the emerald ash borer—might just seem like a nuisance, but they can indirectly cause severe damage to your home.

Many insect species in the Tidewater area can destroy the tree’s system for transporting nutrients and water or the leaves that gather energy for the tree. Carpenter ants can cause similar issues, especially after the tree is damaged by landscaping equipment or other insects. A heavily infested tree will no longer be able to support its canopy, so you’ll see branches and limbs dying off and falling prematurely.

Insects can weaken trees to the point where they die off entirely. Damaged and dead trees are far more likely to attract additional pests, like more carpenter ants or termites, and they can drop large limbs or totally topple over during Virginia’s hurricane season. As such, they put your home at risk of severe damage.

Insects Can Open Trees Up to Disease

As if the damage these insects do themselves isn’t severe enough, the tree insects in Virginia can also stress your trees further. Stressed trees are not only prone to worsening pest infestation but also to tree diseases.

In Virginia, trees that are stressed by carpenter ants, termites, and invasive species can more easily be infected with beech bark disease, oak wilt, thousand cankers, sudden oak death, and powdery mildew disease, among others. These diseases further weaken your tree, making them more prone to dropping limbs, dying off entirely, and attracting insects to your property.

How Tree Maintenance Can Help With Pest Control Efforts

Keeping pests off of your property can seem like an arduous task, and many Virginia homeowners don’t realize that proper tree maintenance can help immensely. Trees can introduce insects like ants and spiders to your home, give them access to moist gutters as a home, and attract additional insects that are very challenging to eradicate on your property.

Proper tree maintenance, including annual pruning and treatment for diseases and pests, should be a part of your pest control strategy. Not only will trees that are correctly cared for be less likely to introduce pests to your home’s interior, but they’ll be less likely to get infested with invasive insects that require extensive measures to eradicate.

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