Texas tree pests and invasive species
With the advent of the internet, we are pushing ever more towards a more connected world. As we get a taste of other cultures around the globe, and as travel becomes cheaper and more abundant, we can finally visit these fantastic places. Once you pack your bags and book a flight, be careful nothing else is hitching a ride with you; you could be bringing in an invasive insect or plant species that could destroy local wildlife. This is already a widespread problem, and native Texas trees are paying the price.
Alternet.org has neatly organized a lot of data from the Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International to show just how many countries are affected by invasive plant and animal species. The United States ranks in the top 15 countries affected the most by invasive species, sitting at number 10. It is estimated that in the United States alone, non-native plants and animals are directly responsible for the decline of 42% of the nation’s threatened and endangered species. One of the biggest threats to Texas is the Cottony Cushion Scale, a white, beetle-like insect that extracts the sap from trees and causes leaves and branches to die. In addition to sap extraction, this insect also leaves behind a certain type of mold that prevents air and light from getting to the leaves, halting photosynthesis and stunting growth. This pest is particularly attracted to citrus trees, and an infestation can be deadly. As it can be found all in over 100 countries worldwide, you are at risk for being an unwitting carrier for this tree killer by traveling nearly anywhere. Of course, insects are not the only problem; weeds can be invasive as well and take away nutrients from already established trees.
What can you do if you notice a pest like the Cottony Cushion Scale feasting on one of your fruit trees? There are many pesticides that are designed to kill insects and not the plants they are hosting on, but depending on the type of pest and the type of tree, and depending on how much damage has already been done, the brand and dosing of the pesticide should be left up to professionals. Many tree care companies, like Hamlin Tree Care in Austin, will conduct a thorough health assessment of your trees so you know exactly how to care for them in the event of an infestation.
Even though most countries are doing their best to control the spread of invasive species, you can help them out by not contributing further to the problem. Wash your clothes before you travel to rid them of any insect eggs or spores, and do not try to take any plants with you on your trip. In addition, the old adage is true: knowledge is power. If you find a pest on your trees, always know what you’re dealing with. Experts will help you identify the pest and make a plan with you to help your trees recover.