Plant Health Care

At Hawkes Tree Service our plant health care (PHC) program allows us to offer many different services that will promote the overall health and longevity of your trees and shrubs. There is much more to caring for your plants than just watering and occasional pruning. We can help you identify current and potential stressors and identify what may be causing your trees to not look as healthy as they could be. Our skilled arborists are trained with the latest industry standard techniques and educated about PHC issues and regional threats. We specialize in plant health care and browntail moth control in Camden, Brunswick, Bath, ME & surrounding areas.

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Our Services

  • Plant identification
  • Insect & disease identification
  • Tree structure evaluation
  • Deep root fertilization
  • Air spading root regeneration
  • PHC assessments
  • Cabling & bracing

Integrated Pest Management

Integrated pest management (IPM) is essentially a multifaceted approach to mitigating a pest problem by incorporating many different management options. Many IPM or pest control programs rely heavily on conventional pesticides as their go-to treatment recommendation. Here at Hawkes Tree Service we understand that there is more to pest management than short-term chemical controls. We recommend the use of multiple approaches including site inspections, monitoring pest populations, evaluating the need for pest control, and making recommendations for one or more suitable control methods when necessary. These options may include conventional pesticides but we emphasize the use of mechanical controls, sanitation or biological controls, and other non-chemical methods. For your tick control, mosquito control, and other pest management needs in Brunswick, ME, Freeport, ME, Rockport ME & surrounding areas, call Hawkes Tree Service.

When we first begin monitoring a property it is important for us to take an inventory of all the different pests and potential pests that may be inhabiting the property. From there we can make our recommendations from our IPM program and set up a plan that is best for you. In some cases the plan may be as simple as pruning trees to allow more sunlight and wind to pass through and dry out a wet area.

Our licensed arborists and applicators can identify, diagnose, and treat many different plant diseases and pests including but not limited to: tick control, mosquito control, Browntail Moth control, Poison Ivy, Winter Moth, Gypsy Moth, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Emerald Ash Borer, Anthracnose, Scales, and Apple Scab.

Pest SpotlightWinter Moths overtaking a young tree

Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata)

A caterpillar capable of defoliating entire canopies.

Winter moth was introduced into North America from Europe. It was first recorded in Nova Scotia in the 1930s and then in the Pacific Northwest in the 1970’s. Winter moth showed up in eastern Massachusetts in the early 2000’s and continued to spread throughout New England. The first record of Winter Moth defoliation in Maine was in 2012.

For effective treatment it is important to understand the life cycle of the Winter Moth. Adult winter moths emerge from the ground in November or December, but only the male is able to fly. The female climbs to the base of a tree or building and attracts the male through the pheromone that she exudes. After mating, the female lays a cluster of approximately 150 eggs under tree bark or in tree crevices, and her life is now over. In March or April the eggs hatch into a smooth green inchworm with a narrow white-stripe running lengthwise on each side of the body. The caterpillar spins a strand of silk, which, with the help of air currents, takes it into tree canopies in a dispersal method known as "ballooning.” Once there, the damage to the tree begins as the caterpillars work their way into the tree buds and leaves to feed. Winter moth caterpillars can also drop from trees to nearby ornamental shrubs such as roses. When feeding ends in mid-June the caterpillars migrate into the soil to pupate and emerge as moths.

The most heavily infested trees may be completely defoliated, and while healthy trees are capable of putting out a second set of leaves, the process puts severe stress on the tree. Research has shown that complete defoliation can reduce the annual growth rate of some oak species by as much as 47%, and successive defoliations can kill branches or entire trees. The impact of the caterpillars may also be exacerbated by secondary effects such as prolonged, cool springs, which allow the caterpillars to feed longer in the buds; dry years which put trees under additional stress; and infestations of other insects such as bark beetles, fungal parasites, or other moth species. 

Here at Hawkes Tree Service we offer several chemical control methods that work exceptionally well against Winter moth caterpillars. Foliar sprays are applied directly to the surface of leaves using a high powered pump and tank system. When the caterpillars ingest the treated leaves, they will be fatally exposed to the product. We have several organic and synthetic products that we recommend for our clients.

The State of Maine has strict guidelines for which products and treatment methods may be used for Winter Moth within 250 feet of the mean high water mark. These laws are designed to protect the integrity of marine ecosystems and habitats. Inside this setback zone we recommend individual tree injections. Soil injections use a small volume of product inserted near the base of the tree's root flares where the fibrous root hairs can absorb it. The systemic product is translocated throughout the tree with other nutrients and delivered to the new tissue in growing leaves. Trunk injections work in a similar way and use a systemic product as well. In this case, we actually drill a small hole into the root flares of the tree and insert a needle that is connected to a system containing our product. The tree will pull the product in as it does with water and other nutrients and when we are done the tree will compartmentalize the small wounds and quickly heal over.

Every property is a bit different when it comes to treatment methods for Winter Moth. If you would like more information or a free consultation for your property, please call us at (207) 442-7444.

You can also find more information about Winter Moth from the Maine Forest Service here and more information about policies from the Maine Board of Pesticide Control here.


Other Maine Invasive Pests

Browntail Moth

Browntail Moth is an invasive species that made its way the US from Europe in the late 1800's. It quickly spread throughout New England where it became a nuisance for both trees and humans. The population has fluctuated over the last century but we have recently seen a spike in the Southern, Midcoast and Central Maine regions. Browntail Moth caterpillars are extremely active defoliators and can eat the leaves off mature hardwood trees in a matter of days. We have seen them feed primarily on Oak, Birch, Poplar, and fruit varieties including Black Cherry. They also have a human health impact due to the toxins that mature caterpillars develop in their hairs. If these hairs come into contact with your skin they can create an itchy or burning rash sensation similar to that of Poison Ivy. We offer both mechanical and chemical treatments to help suppress BTM in our Maine communities

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid

HWA is a sap-sucking, scale-like insect that feeds on the needles of Hemlock trees and spreads very easily. It is found in most of coastal Maine and continues to spread, leaving many thinned and dying hemlocks in its wake. Here at Hawkes we offer two treatments for HWA; a systemic bark treatment that takes effect immediately, killing the adelgids present on the tree; and a systemic soil treatment that is taken up by the tree and can protect it against HWA for up to four years. For the greatest protection of these beautiful, soft-needled trees, we recommend a dual treatment of both bark and soil.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer (or EAB) is an invasive species native to Asia. Despite its attractive lustrous color, it has the potential to essentially eradicate Ash trees in the US. It has recently been found in Maine and is expected to become a critical threat to our Ash trees. EAB bores into the trunk of Ash trees and can quickly girdle and kill otherwise healthy trees in 3-5 years. There are quarantines in place to stop the spread, but unfortunately many trees will be susceptible. We can help save your beloved Ashes using our trunk injection system to deliver a systemic pesticide to protect your trees.

Spongy Moth (Formerly Gypsy Moth)

Spongy Moths are native to Europe, and made their way to New England in the late 1860's. They have voracious appetites and are capable of consuming a canopy seemingly overnight, indiscriminately feeding on over 300 species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Similar in appearance to Browntail Moth caterpillars, Spongy Moth caterpillars are distinguishable by the two rows of dots lining their back, first blue then red. Though their hairs are not poisonous, they can still be aggravating to people's allergies. Caterpillars hatch in late April to mid May and feed for about 7 weeks. In late June and July they look for a protected space in which to pupate, typically between ridges of bark, cracks or outcroppings of rocks, and even on the underside of vehicles, branches, and outdoor furniture. Once moths, they begin the mating process, and females will lay a single egg sac containing up to 1000 eggs. We recommend foliar and systemic treatments during the feeding stage, primarily in May and June. 

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I cannot speak highly enough of Jarrod, Mark, and their entire crew. They are a pleasure to work with. They are professional, prompt, reasonably priced, respectful & responsible. My go-to tree company!—Karen B.