Monster Tree Service of Rochester February Newsletter

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Not All That White On Your Tree Is Snow

It’s a scenic winter day—you look out your window and admire the snow that is accumulating on the trees from passing flurries. You watch the snow cling to the needles and branches of the evergreens. It has slowly layered itself on the bark of the deciduous trees and shimmers back to you as the light shines through the bare limbs. Then, an unanticipated winter noise. Is that a chainsaw? Isn’t it too cold for tree work? 

Image of Neighborhood with snow on trees

Yes, it can be a little chilly performing tree work in the winter, but it is one of the best times to prune and address specific issues in trees. Deciduous trees—those that lose their leaves— go dormant in the winter months. They stop producing new leaves and focus their energy on root growth. This time provides the arborist with one of the clearest views of what is typically hidden under the canopy—making it one of the best times to examine the condition of your branches, major limbs, and bark.

While evergreens hold their needles and continue photosynthesizing, they do slow down and stop producing new growth during winter. Both types of trees will rely on stored energy for the colder months.

Like trees, nearly all disease and insect pests are dormant during winter. Because of this, pruning cuts created in the winter months are less likely to be exposed to diseases or pests before the healing process begins in the spring. This makes winter an excellent time to prune your trees!  

During winter, pests and fungi can overwinter [be dormant] in or on trees, shrubs, or their host. While that may give you the shivers, be assured that it also means they cannot hide from an arborist who knows what to look for. Hemlock Woolly Adelgid [HWA] is one pest that is easily identified during winter. By now the HWA insect has laid its eggs and wrapped them in a white wool like sac attached at the base of hemlock needles and all along the twigs. One adult can produce up to 300 new crawlers. Hemlock Woolly Adelgids can cause extensive damage to Eastern hemlocks, which are prevalent in our area. The adelgids feed primarily on the twigs but can attack needles. The needles may become discolored or drop prematurely, branches may start dying, and the trees growth may become stunted. Unlike deciduous trees, the needles of hemlocks will not grow back after they drop. HWA can also reduce the trees’ ability to take up and retain water, leading to further decline. In addition, the adelgids can introduce a fungus that can cause further damage. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation lists HWA as an invasive species. It can now be found all over the state of New York, but especially in WNY and Finger Lakes due to our native lands and planted hemlocks.

Image of Minor HWA Infestation on Tree

Image of major HWA infestation on tree

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid egg sac are located on the twigs at the base of needles.

Top photo: a minor HWA infestation.

Bottom photo: a major HWA infestation (picture from NYS DEC).

If you have identified HWA or suspect your hemlock is exhibiting signs of an infestation, there is good news. HWA is treatable and can be controlled. One way to control HWA is by having a licensed professional apply a treatment consisting of a non-invasive bark drench application. These treatments are most effective when applied to the tree while the adelgids are most active, typically early spring into fall. Although, treatments have been proven to be effective when applied any time of year. In addition, natural predators such as lady beetles, lacewings, and hoverflies can also help to reduce HWA populations. Cornell University is working hard to help release some of these species in hemlock stands in hopes of controlling the invasive insect.

Image of Needle decline on an Eastern Hemlock as a result of HWA.

Needle decline on an Eastern Hemlock as a result of HWA.

Whether your tree has an infestation that can be treated or requires some pruning or a removal, Monster Tree Service is here for you. So, enjoy the scenic winter view from the comfort of your office or home. We hope the sounds of chainsaws and equipment buzzing in the background assures you that Monster Tree Service is committed to twelve months of helping your trees.

For additional information on HWA visit:

Cornell & NYS Hemlock Initiative

NYS Department of Environmental Conservation HWA

Consult a Monster Tree Service Arborist

Monster in the Neighborhood

Image of map that Monster Tree Service Rochester performed work on

In conjunction with the Genesee Land Trust and with approval from the Town of Webster, Monster Tree Service of Rochester was able to work on a large project to treat and protect hemlocks in the Gosnell Big Woods Preserve in Webster. The 160 plus acres of the preserve include majestic old-growth forest, open field, and a small meadow. It has some amazing hemlocks. Unfortunately, some hemlocks are under attack from both HWA and Hemlock Elongate Scale.

Find out more about the preserve here.

Image of two Plant Health Care team specialists

Plant health care team members Kyle (left) and Max (right) out on the trails at Gosnell Big Woods Preserve.

Our team of Certified Arborists and Plant Health Care crew worked diligently on this multi-step project to identify all the hemlocks on 35 acres of the preserve where they grow naturally. After identifying them we decided which to treat based on size, health, overall condition, and overall pest population. We look forward to working with the Genese Land Trust and monitoring the preserve.

Tree Highlight

Eastern Hemlock

Image of Eastern Hemlock tree

Also called: Canadian hemlock, hemlock spruce

Lifespan: It can take about 200 years for an eastern hemlock to reach maturity. Some eastern hemlocks are estimated to be about 800 years or older.

ID features: Short, flat, blunt, flexible needles. Needles have a white stripe on the underside.

Bark will be grayish-brown and smooth in young trees, turning a cinnamon-brown with thick ridges as it matures.

Image of Eastern Hemlock pine needles

Fun fact: Eastern hemlocks provide food and shelter for many species of wildlife, including the endangered Northern Spotted Owl.

The Eastern Hemlock is the only hemlock native to the Adirondack Mountains.

Ask the Arborist


ISA Certified Arborist,

NY 6554A

NYSDEC 3A Certified Applicator, C8902567

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Q: What do hemlocks have to do with drinking water? 

A: Eastern hemlocks are a keystone species in our region's forests that many other living things depend on to survive, approximately 120 different species! However, it is not only animals that benefit from hemlock forests. Humans do too! Eastern hemlock roots hold the soil on the edges of steep ravines in place preventing erosion, landslides, and flooding. That same root system also acts as a filter for the water that runs off from farm fields or the urban environment. This prevents pollutants like chlorine, nitrogen, and copper from getting into streams and eventually our lakes. The shade from hemlock canopies keeps water temperatures cooler, providing us with cleaner and clearer water. Because of hemlocks we have clean drinking water! The city of Rochester gets its drinking water from none other than Hemlock Lake. Preserving and protecting these trees benefits us as much as it does wildlife.

Q: Where should I plant a hemlock? 

A: The Eastern hemlock can be a great choice for your landscape and provide an excellent pop of color in the winter. Here are a few things you’ll want to consider before planting: 

  • Hemlocks thrive in acidic, well-draining soil. 
  • It is best not to plant them in areas with rock or mulch. 
  • They will tolerate full sun, partial-sun, or full-shade. They prefer partial sun.
  • While they may start out small, be sure to plant them with plenty of space from the house. At maturity they can grow (on average) to 70 feet tall and 30 feet wide. 
  • Remember to water – hemlocks do not tolerate drought stress. Proper irrigation is important.
  • Be sure to monitor for Hemlock Woolly Adelgid infestations after planting!

Happy Valentine's Day From MTS!

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Which tree line will you use on Valentine's day? Click on your favorite saying below.


Image stating "Mother Nature Perfects It, WE PROTECT IT."