Monster Tree Service of Rochester June Newsletter

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Last month's newsletter dove deep into the topic of mulch. This month, we are going to dive deeper into the topic of Ticks and Mosquitos.

Don't Let Ticks & Mosquitoes Ruin the Party

June is finally here (woo-hoo!) and in Rochester that means taking advantage of the nice weather by spending time outdoors. As you plan to enjoy your yard this summer, whether it is for barbeques or relaxing, ticks and mosquitoes are also planning to take advantage of the warmer temperatures. Ticks and mosquitoes are more than just nuisances; they can also carry serious diseases. Since the beautiful weather in Rochester only lasts a few months, here's what you need to know about these pests and what you can do to keep them from ruining your summer.

Ticks on a finger

Ticks are often missed due to their small size and subtle movements.

In Rochester, tick and mosquito activity typically peaks from late spring to early fall, with the worst periods often being in June and July. Certain factors can contribute to higher tick and mosquito populations. These include a combination of climate conditions (warm and moist), vegetation density (ticks love wooded and grassy areas), and the presence of hosts (like deer or rodents for ticks, and humans or animals for mosquitoes). It's not uncommon for these pests to be more prevalent near water bodies, or in areas with thick foliage and tall grass.

Close up on a Mosquito

To protect against mosquito and tick bites, homeowners can take preventative measures like:

Wearing protective clothing—tuck your pants into your socks when walking in tall grass or in wooded areas to prevent ticks' easy access to skin. Using insect repellent. Checking your body and clothing regularly for ticks, especially after spending time in tick-prone areas. Promptly remove any ticks you find. Hiring a professional pest control company to apply safe and effective treatments at the appropriate time of year.

The correct way to remove a tick.

The correct way to remove a tick.

The last point above needs to be discussed a little more. How do you choose a professional pest control company? There are many companies that specialize in controlling ticks & mosquitoes and some offer a mix of products that can control these pests while minimizing the ecological impact. However, there are some companies that primarily use broad spectrum pesticides. Broadspectrum pesticides will knock down the tick and mosquito population but can also have the unintended consequence of killing beneficial insects and other non-target organisms, potentially leading to secondary pest problems in your landscape. For example, broad-spectrum pesticides may kill predatory or parasitic insects that naturally help control pests like scales, aphids, or mites. Scale insects, for instance, have several natural enemies, including ladybugs, parasitic wasps, and lacewing larvae. These beneficial insects play a critical role in naturally suppressing scale populations. If these beneficial insects are killed off by broad-spectrum pesticides, scale populations could surge, causing damage to your trees and shrubs. Unfortunately, we treat a lot of trees and shrubs for insects that have been able to thrive because the unwanted pests no longer have a natural enemies to keep them in check.

A fly pollinating Cornelian cherry dogwood flowers.

A fly pollinating Cornelian cherry dogwood flowers.

Bees are also impacted by the application of broad-spectrum pesticides. Bees are important pollinators that are beneficial for many species of trees and plants, helping to fertilize flowers and ensure healthy fruit and seed production. Additionally, bees can help improve the health and appearance of lawns and gardens by spreading beneficial microbes in the soil. When applying any treatment, it's important to consider the potential ecological impacts. When selecting a company, look for one that prioritizes the use of targeted, lower-toxicity products and cultural or biological controls, which will help minimize the impact to non-target beneficial species.

Find out more:

Schedule a consultation with a Monster Arborist Department of Public Health: Ticks NYS DEC Invasive Terrestrial Species

Monster in the Neighborhood

Ticks enjoy finding shade and shelter in thickets and dense vegetation. Multiflora rose can be a hot stop for ticks. We worked with the NYS Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation department to create and implement an integrated pest management plan to suppress Multiflora rose at Lakeside State Park in Waterport, NY. We successfully treated over 7 acres of the park to eliminate multiflora rose!

Image of land where pest threshold was surpassed

We focused on specific areas of Lakeside State Park where the pest threshold was surpassed.

Multiflora rose in bloom

Above: Multiflora rose in bloom.

Below: Before and after photos of a treated area at Lakeside State Park.

Before and after photos of a treated area at Lakeside State Park.

While multiflora sports a beautiful flower (it is part of the rose family) it is highly opportunistic and invasive. It will climb and tower over ground vegetation, shading out lower plants. Birds are a large contributor of seed spreading. It is often found in open woodlands, on forest edges, open fields, right-of-ways, and roadsides.

NYS DEC Invasive Species

Tree Highlight

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Photo of a tree

Also called: Juniper cedar, Juniper, Upright juniper

Lifespan: 100-300 years

ID features: Height- Shrub varieties can range between 3-6 feet while mature trees can reach 40-50 feet.

  • Leaves- It has blue/green scale like leaves.
  • Bark- The bark can be brown to brown-orange with long, narrow fiberous strips.
  • Fruit/seed- The seed cones are first bluish black before turning brownish in true pine form. Those aren't berries-- they're cones pretending to be berries!

 Close up on fruit

Close up on bark

Fun facts: An Eastern Red Cedar is not actually a true cedar, but rather a species of juniper. It is called the pencil cedar because the wood was used to make pencils until less expensive woods and synthetic materials started being used.

Ask the Arborist

Jay NYSDEC 3A Certified Applicator & Certified Treecare Safety Professional

Animated male arborist

Q: What else can I do to make my backyard less inviting to ticks & mosquitoes?

A: There are several things you can do to minimize the tick and mosquito population in your yard.

Let's start with keeping your lawn well-maintained. This includes regular mowing and trimming of vegetation. This will help reduce favored habitats for ticks and mosquitoes.

Course wood chips (or mulch) act as a deterrent for ticks because it’s hard for them to traverse. A mulched zone around a playground or a mulch buffer between the woods and your yard can significantly reduce ticks moving into the property.

Look for standing water as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. It's important to regularly empty water from flowerpots, buckets, bird baths, and other containers where water accumulates.

Using pest-resistant plants around your yard is another great way to help. Plants, like marigolds, lavender, and citronella, are known to deter mosquitoes.

Finally, keep wildlife at bay. Many pests thrive on hosts, so doing what you can to discourage unwanted wildlife from setting up shop in your yard will be a big help. Make sure your garbage cans are covered and secure to help minimize food sources for wildlife that act as a host for ticks and mosquitoes.

Q: Can I treat ticks & mosquitoes myself?

A: Yes, there are several natural alternatives that can be effective against ticks and mosquitoes to a certain extent, and they are considered safer for the environment and nontarget organisms.

Cedar oil is the main ingredient in one of the products we use as it can kill as well as repel ticks & mosquitoes. It can be sprayed in lawns and gardens.

Essential oils are another option. Certain essential oils have been found to have insect-repelling properties. These include citronella, lemongrass, eucalyptus, and peppermint oils. However, their effectiveness usually lasts for a short period, so frequent reapplication might be necessary.

Neem oil is another option and has a citrusy smell. It is a plantbased oil with insecticidal properties. It can be mixed with water and sprayed around the yard to deter ticks and mosquitoes.

All of these options can be found at most garden centers. You will most likely need to reapply these products every couple of weeks.