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Oak Tree Bugs Insect Infestation: Identifying and Treating Common Insect Pests

Dr Ahsanur Rahman, PHD

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identifying and treating common insect pests
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There are many insects that can infest oak tree bugs, including caterpillars, beetles, and moths. These insects can cause damage to the tree by eating its leaves or burrowing into its bark. Infested oak trees may have yellowed or dead leaves, holes in their bark, or webbing around their branches.

If you suspect your oak tree is infested with insects, contact a certified arborist or pest control professional for help.

The oak tree is a common tree found in many parts of the world. However, these trees are not immune to insect infestations. One of the most common insects that can infest an oak tree is the aphid.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied creatures that feed on plant sap. They are typically green or white in color and can be found clustered on the undersides of leaves or on stems. Aphids can cause damage to an oak tree by sucking out all of the nutrients from its leaves, causing them to turn yellow and eventually drop off.

In severe cases, an aphid infestation can kill an entire oak tree.

What Insect Attacks Oak Trees?

There are a few different types of insects that attack oak trees. The most common are the gypsy moth, the two-lined spittlebug, and the European corn borer. The gypsy moth is one of North America’s most destructive pests of hardwood trees.

Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of over 300 species of trees and shrubs, but they prefer oaks. A single caterpillar can eat up to 1 square foot of leaves per day! This defoliation can weaken and stress trees, making them more susceptible to other pests and diseases.

In some cases, heavy defoliation can even kill trees. The two-lined spittlebug is another common oak tree pest. These small insects suck the sap from oak leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown and eventually drop off the tree.

Spittlebugs can also transmit plant viruses as they feed. The European corn borer is a major pest of maize (corn) in Europe and North America but also attacks oaks. The larvae bore into the trunk and branches of oaks, causing damage that can weaken or even kill the tree.

Insect webbing on Coast Live Oak leaves

How Do You Treat an Oak Tree for Bugs?

If your oak tree has bugs, the best course of action is to contact a professional arborist or tree care company. They will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend a treatment plan properly. Some common treatments for oak trees with bug problems include insecticidal sprays and soil injections.

What does Parasite grow on Oak Trees?

A few different parasites can grow on oak trees, but the most common is mistletoe. Mistletoes are small, leafless plants that attach themselves to the branches of trees and steal water and nutrients from the host plant. They can eventually kill their host plant if left unchecked.

Fortunately, you can do a few things to get rid of mistletoes and protect your oak tree.

How Do I Get Rid of Oak Midges?

If you have oak midges in your home, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them. First, vacuum regularly and dust all surfaces to remove any potential food sources for the midges. Second, keep your windows and doors closed as much as possible to prevent them from getting inside.

Finally, if you see any midges, use a fly swatter or similar object to kill them.

Oak Tree Pests And Diseases

Oak trees are one of the most popular types of trees in North America. They are known for their strong wood and beautiful leaves. However, oak trees are also susceptible to a number of pests and diseases.

Here is some information about some of the most common oak tree pests and diseases: One of the most common oak tree pests is the gypsy moth. Gypsy moths can cause serious damage to oak trees by eating their leaves.

This can lead to defoliation, which can weaken the tree and make it more susceptible to other problems. Gypsy moth infestations can be difficult to control, so it’s important to take preventive measures such as removing potential host plants from around your property and monitoring for signs of infestation. Another common pest that affects oak trees is the bronze birch borer.

This insect bores into the bark of the tree, causing it to become weakened and eventually die. Bronze birch borers are especially damaging to young trees, so it’s important to take steps to protect young oaks on your property. You can do this by keeping an eye out for signs of infestation and treating affected trees with an insecticide designed specifically for this pest.

Oak wilt is a disease that affects both live and dead oak trees. It’s caused by a fungus that enters the tree through wounds in its bark. Once inside, the fungus spreads quickly through the tree’s vascular system, causing it to wilt and die within a few weeks or months.

Oak wilt is particularly devastating because there is no cure once a tree is infected – all you can do is remove and destroy affected trees in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

Puccinia malvacearum on Marsh-Mallow - Althaea cf. officinalis

Live Oak Tree Pests And Diseases

Live oak trees are susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. Some of the more common problems include:

  • Scale insects: These small, hard-bodied creatures feed on the tree sap, causing leaf discoloration and stunted growth. Scale can be controlled with regular applications of horticultural oil.
  • Caterpillars: Caterpillars can cause extensive damage to live oak leaves, skeletonizing them or eating them entirely. Several different types of caterpillars may attack live oaks, so it’s important to correctly identify the pest before treating it. Caterpillar infestations can be controlled with Bacillus thuringiensis (BT), a biological insecticide.
  • Powderpost beetles: These tiny beetles tunnel into the tree’s wood, causing extensive damage. Powderpost beetle larvae thrive in moist conditions, so keeping the tree well-watered is often an effective control measure. Chemical treatments are also available for severe infestations.
Odd "blister" on a leaf of Coast Live Oak (Quercus agrifolia, Fagaceae) - how oak leaves get "skeletonized"

White Oak Pests

One of the most common pests that attack white oaks is borers. These insects tunnel under the bark and into the wood, causing extensive damage. Other pests include scales, aphids, mites, and caterpillars.

Proper identification of the pest is essential for effective control. Borers are the most damaging pests of white oaks. Several species of beetles and clearwing moth larvae bore into the tree, causing tunnels under the bark and in the wood.

The larval stage does the most damage as they feed on sapwood and heartwood. Adults emerge from holes in late spring or summer, leaving behind round exit holes about 1/2 inch in diameter. Borer infestations often go undetected until branches die or trees decline suddenly.

Scale are small sucking insects that attach themselves to twigs and branches. They feed by piercing plant tissue and sucking out fluids, weakening and stressing the tree. Aphids are small soft-bodied insects that also suck plant fluids.

They tend to congregate on new growth or undersides of leaves where they can do considerable damage if left unchecked Mites are tiny spider-like creatures that feed on plant juices by puncturing leaf cells with their mouthparts..

White Oak Tree Diseases

White Oak trees are susceptible to a number of diseases, including:

  • Anthracnose – This disease is caused by a fungus and results in leaf lesions and premature defoliation. It is more common in wet years.
  • Brown spot – Another fungal disease, brown spot causes circular brown spots on the leaves. It too is more common in wet years.
  • Leaf scorch – Leaf scorch can be caused by several different fungi or bacteria, and results in the margins of the leaves turning brown or black. Scorch is more common during periods of drought stress.
  • Powdery mildew – This fungal disease appears as a white powdery growth on the leaves and can cause them to become distorted or discolored. It is most common in humid conditions.

While these diseases can be unsightly, they generally do not pose a serious threat to your tree’s health. However, if you notice any unusual symptoms or want to take preventive measures, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local certified arborist for assistance.

The Angel Oak Tree (John's Island, Charleston, South Carolina) - Monday April 9th, 2018

Red Oak Borer

Red Oak Borer (Agrilus auroguttatus) is a wood-boring beetle that attacks and kills red oak trees. The adult beetles are about 1/2 inch long, with a metallic green body and bronze-colored wings. They lay their eggs under the bark of red oaks, and the larvae bore into the tree’s sapwood, causing extensive damage.

Red oaks are not the only trees affected by this pest – other species of oak such as white oak, bur oak, and live oak are also susceptible. The best way to prevent infestation is to choose healthy trees for planting and to avoid wounding the bark of existing trees. If you suspect your tree is infested, contact a certified arborist or pest control professional for treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Why is white oak so expensive?

White oak is expensive for several reasons:
Slow Growth:
White oak trees grow slowly, taking many years to reach maturity. This slow growth means that it takes a long time to produce large, high-quality timber, making it a limited resource.
Durability: White oak is highly valued for its durability and resistance to decay and insects. It is often used in high-quality furniture, flooring, and boat-building, which drives up its price.
Attractive Grain: White oak has a beautiful and distinctive grain pattern that adds to its aesthetic appeal. This makes it a preferred choice for fine woodworking projects and furniture, further increasing its cost.

Which oak is the most expensive?

European Oak (Quercus robur) is often considered the most expensive among oak varieties due to its fine quality and desirable characteristics.

Which oak is most valuable?

European Oak (Quercus robur) is considered the most valuable oak variety due to its quality and desirable properties.

Which oak tree is best?

White oak (Quercus alba) is often considered one of the best oak trees due to its durability, attractive grain, and versatility in woodworking and various applications.


If you have an oak tree on your property, you need to be on the lookout for signs of insect infestation. These pests can cause serious damage to your tree, and if left untreated, can even kill it. Look for small holes in the leaves, or webbing between the branches.

You may also see ants or other insects crawling on the tree. If you suspect your tree is infested, contact a professional arborist or tree service company for treatment options.

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