Common Pests That Plague Texas Trees – And How To Stop Them

With the arrival of spring comes green grass, fresh flowers, and horrible tree pests that threaten the health and appearance of our largest ornamental plants. Learn how to identify these tiny attackers and how Organic Matter Lawn Care’s organic tree care program keeps your trees and shrubs protected all year round.

Common Spring Tree Pests Found In North Texas

Powdery Mildewpowdery mildew on a leaf

Powdery mildew is named for how it coats plants in a white powder-like substance resembling flour or baby powder. Infected leaves will begin to decay, turn yellow, and die off. This final disease feeds off the nutrition stored in the leaves, which halts the plant’s ability to produce chlorophyll and grow properly. Powdery mildew is most likely to occur in humid and moist conditions, so plants that receive ample shade are the most vulnerable.

Spider Mites

Just as full-sized spiders feed by sucking out the blood of unlucky insects, so too do spider mites – the only difference is that spider mites suck out the liquids from plant leaves. You can identify spider mite damage by looking closely at the leaves. They’ll appear stippled, dried out, and yellow. They may also be covered with yellowish spots. Spider mites are also notorious for harming evergreen trees, creating significant needle loss. Because spider mites can remove the chlorophyll, you may notice tiny white dots on infected leaves. The leaves lose their green color without the chlorophyll, creating a bleached effect. During their feeding process, spider mites inject toxins into the leaves, which makes the yellowing appearance, and it can also warp their shape.

Unfortunately, spider mites are so small they aren’t visible to the unaided human eye. However, there’s an easy way to test if your tree or shrub is infected with spider mites. Grab a magnifying glass and white piece of paper or fabric. Place the paper or fabric beneath the area you think spider mites might be lurking and shake the branches. If any spider mites are present, they should fall onto the white material, making it easier to spot them with the help of your magnifying glass. Spider mites love warm, dry weather, making North Texas an ideal climate.


Noted for their neon green coloring, aphids are also not easily spotted due to their extreme smallness. Their presence is triply damaging for plants. Firstly, they eat your plants, which is harmful enough, but they also produce a sweet sticky substance called honeydew. To other insects, this honeydew is a tasty treat, which means once aphids infect a tree or shrub, their activity is likely to attract more pests. But wait – there’s more! As if two doses of insects weren’t bad enough, this honeydew will eventually decay and cause mold problems as well. While ladybugs are a natural predator for aphids, it’s not a good idea to wait for them to do their work. A tree and shrub care program with dormant oil will wipe them out faster than letting nature take its course.

Tree Scaletree scale

One all the pests on this list, the tree scale might be the most devious. It’s very easy to miss this problem until it’s too late. Scales are actually bugs, but they are pretty flat and easily mistaken for knots or areas where old twigs and branches have fallen off. Like spider mites, tree scales are vampiric and don’t like to move around. Instead, they’ll cling to the bark so they can penetrate it and pull out the sap. Scales can either be armored, with a shell protecting their exoskeleton, or soft scale, which has no outer protective coating. Like aphids, soft scales produce a honeydew-like substance, which is one of the ways you can identify this problem. Tree scale species you’re likely to find here in the Lone Star State include the Eriococcus scale, the Kermes scale, the Lecanium scale, and the Obscure scale.

Tent Caterpillars

Are those mushrooms growing on your tree? Take a closer look. It may be tent caterpillars. Named for the tent-like webs they produce, these caterpillars use this poofy structure to help cling to your plants. Their tents also provide shelter. Unfortunately, when tent caterpillars move in, the only way to eradicate them is to prune the impacted branch. Depending on how bad the infestation is, many branches could be pruned. To avoid amputating limbs from your trees, Organic Lawn Care will use dormant oil to kill tent caterpillars.

How To Maintain Trees And Shrubs

Part of Organic Matter Lawn Care’s tree and shrub program involves the application of dormant oil. Also known as horticulture oil, this substance is completely safe for plants but not so for insects and microscopic pests. The oily substance smothers any eggs, larvae, or adult insects lurking on your plants. This is highly beneficial because it doesn’t matter where in the life cycle these insects are – they’ll all be wiped out. The other big perk of dormant oil is that it prevents future insects, bacteria, and fungi from settling on your plants as well. When applied seasonally, your tree pest problems should be a thing of the past.

Protect Your Plants – Get Tree Services Near Southlake, Texas

It’s still not too late to get a jump on protecting your large ornamental plants. For nearly 20 years, Organic Matter Lawn Care has provided tree care to North Texas homeowners. Our organic tree and shrub care package offers all the nutrients your plants need to thrive, plus a protecting coating of dormant oil to smother any pest infestations and prevent future ones. If you’d like to learn more about what this service can provide your trees or would like to schedule an appointment, please call us at 817-888-8961. You can also inquire online through our contact form here.