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 Freeport, Brunswick, Yarmouth, Rockport ME and the 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.

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: Ticks, Mosquitos, Browntail Moth, Poison Ivy, Winter Moth, Gypsy Moth, Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, Emerald Ash Borer, Anthracnose, Scales, and Apple Scab.


Pest SpotlightBrowntail Moth caterpillars leaving their winter web April, 2019

Browntail Moth (Euproctis chrysorrhoea)

The caterpillar that has been tormenting Coastal Maine communities.

Browntail Moth is an invasive species that made its way into Massachusetts from Europe in 1897. 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.

The life cycle of Browntail Moth is important to understand because it is a bit unusual. Eggs are laid on the underside of leaves during the summer months and they begin to hatch out usually between August & September. At this point, the young caterpillars begin to feed and build webs that they will colonize and live in during the winter. During the warmer days of April, the young caterpillars will begin leaving their nests during the day and returning at night. As leaf buds begin to open the caterpillars begin to feed and by the second week of May they are in full spring feeding mode. They will feed rapidly through early July where they will begin to pupate into moths. The moths will hatch out and lay eggs to start the cycle over again.

We offer a variety of treatment options for Browntail Moth through our IPM program. We can manually remove winter nests from trees up until mid-April. This helps eliminate a large portion of the population before they can begin feeding in the spring. Manual nest removal can be difficult in mature trees especially those with heights that exceed 80 feet. When mechanical methods are unavailable we have several chemical control methods that work exceptionally well against Browntail 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 Browntail 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 Browntail 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 Browntail Moth from the Maine Forest Service here and more information about policies from the Maine Board of Pesticide Control here.

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We are committed to practicing responsible land stewardship that protects our trees, water, shoreland, and wildlife.
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We just had two of the largest pines trees that I have ever seen removed at our house by Hawkes. The job was professional from top to bottom. This is a very impressive company. If I need any tree work in the future, they will be my only call!—Scott J.