3 Insects That Can Infest A Box Elder Tree—And How To Prevent Further Damage

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The box elder tree is a mid-sized ornamental that grows well—and quickly—in a variety of soil types. The tree has dark brown, furrowed bark, fresh-looking green twigs, and thick bunches of green leaves that turn a brilliant yellow in the fall.

If you are looking to plant an ornamental tree in difficult soil, a box elder tree might be the right choice. Maintaining the elder requires regular pruning from a tree service and monitoring for signs of an insect infestation.

What are some of the common bugs that can infest a box elder tree?

Box Elder Bugs

Box elder bugs are the insects most commonly associated with a box elder tree. They are black insects with bright red markings and a body shape somewhat similar to a cockroach. The bugs lay eggs on the box elder tree, which hatch into larvae that feed on the tree for nutrients. The larvae can cause some leaves to yellow or wilt prematurely but the damage to the tree is usually minimal. 

The reason box elder bugs are such a major pest is that the bugs like to move from the tree into your house once winter strikes. While the bugs don't sting or cause structural damage, the sheer number of bugs that can travel inside and the fact that they can stain walls and carpeting is enough to cause major headaches.

Suspect a box elder bug infestation and want the problem solved before the bugs end up inside? Ask a pest control company to treat around your house to keep the bugs from moving indoors. The infestation on the actual tree isn't as treatable, so you might want to call in a tree removal service if you want the bugs gone for good.

Flatheaded Borer

Flatheaded borers are metallic-colored beetles that can damage the box elder tree. The damage actually occurs when the borers are at the larvae stage, which is when the borers burrow into the wood to feed on its nutrients. The outer bark in the feeding areas can become wet and cracked, and the supporting limb can eventually die. Left untreated, borers can kill the box elder tree.

Prevention is the best medicine against borers. Ask a tree trimming service to regularly remove branches that have suffered storm or pruning damage. If you already have a borer infection, the best chance is to wait for the current batch of borers to reach adulthood and then ask a pest control service to apply the appropriate insecticide.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are, as the name suggests, technically an arachnid rather than an insect. But the mites are as problematic for box elder trees as an insect infestation. The mites are extremely tiny spiders that feed on the nutrients in the tree's leaves. If the tree has a small mite infestation, you might never notice signs of damage or signs of the mites. But larger infestations can cause holes to form in the leaves and will cause the leaves to yellow.

The mites target trees that are water-starved, so sufficient watering is the best way to prevent a mite infestation. Call in a pest control service to apply an insecticide oil; don't try to treat the problem yourself as many insecticides will only kill off the natural enemies of the mites rather than the mites themselves. You could end up causing the mites to flourish rather than killing them.

If you have a box elder tree and have questions about tree pruning or removal services, contact local companies such as Jonny's Tree & Landscaping Co., LLC.