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In my opinion, most problems people encounter with trees (for example, poor leaf & needle color, dying branches, and slow growth) can be associated with the following mix of ingredients:

  1. Human-caused factors
  2. Insect- related issues
  3. Disease agents (a fungus, bacteria, or virus)

The first ingredient I’ve listed – human-caused factors- is considered by many leading experts to be the fundamental cause in 90% of all tree health problems in our backyards and communities. I have examined and dug up over 2,000 dead or dying trees and have determined in 80% of the cases, the foremost reason the trees failed were due to humans and their activities around the tree site.
Human-caused tree disorders involve plenty of activities that range from horrendous to humorous! As such, I have saved the “best for last” and you will find my photograph examples of human-caused tree diseases at the end of this section.
But first…let’s talk about insects!

Insects: incredible, indispensible, and…edible

Source: United Nations – food & agricultural committee report


Ok, I know you aren’t visiting my site to gather information on starting an insect diet, but it’s important to know that insects have world-wide importance to humans; and that the vast majority of North America’s 100,000 insect species provide beneficial products and essential services such as:

  • soil fertilization
  • pollination of flowers, fruits, and vegetables
  • production of honey, silk, and beeswax

Before you decide you might need to exterminate unidentified insects found on your tree, it’s a good idea to get better acquainted with these creatures. So before I list a sampling of insects that do cause damage to trees and plants in Montana, Wyoming, and the intermountain region of the Rocky Mountains, it’s worth the time to closely observe some of the rarely seen amazing insect features.
*All photos courtesy of Mike Garvey. ©2016.



Tree Diseases

Human-caused diseases of community & urban trees

The most important thing to remember when trying to figure out why your favorite tree is in poor health, vigor, and vitality, or has just died this past season, is that in the majority of cases the actual first cause of the tree’s decline is not attributed to insects and diseases.

In most cases, the first cause of a tree’s poor health and decline is attributed to human-caused activity and neglect.

The following photographs illustrate how I have discovered the actions of people and their misunderstanding of how trees “work” have led to damaged and poorly-functioning trees.

Correctly diagnosing tree disorders is based on first identifying and knowing the difference of the symptoms and signs caused by insects, disease agents, and human-caused planting site issues.

It takes a trained eye, knowledge, experience, logical thinking, and a desire to take a close look at the big picture before making any decisions for tree health care management. Please check out my Contact Page for more information and service fees for this type of “tree detective” work.