Common Tree Insects in North Carolina

Healthy green tree
  • Aphids
  • Bagworms
  • Japanese Beetles
  • Lacebugs
  • Leaf Miner
  • Mites
  • Scale



Aphids can infest most garden plants. Some may spend their entire life on one plant and others may move to less populated plants or to a better host plant. They are born from eggs and also live birth. Many generations can be produced throughout the year. Our systemic insecticide treatments are very effective on aphids but may need to have an additional application late in the year if the season is unusually wet.

Leaf Miner

Leaf miners are insect larvae that feed inside the leaf between the upper and lower surfaces. Adults lay their eggs inside or on the leaf and the larvae bore into the leaf and feed. Because they are inside it is difficult to control them unless you use a systemic insecticide. Our early spring systemic insecticide treatment is very effective on these larvae. Sometimes you may see small tunnels even on treated plants where the larvae feed until it ingests enough of the insecticide


Bagworms are the larvae of moths. Newly hatched caterpillars crawl around eating the foliage of a host plant. They build a bag with some of the foliage that they eventually attach to the plant and form a pupa, several days later an adult month emerges and then lays its eggs inside the bag.


Mites are very small pests that infest many garden plants. There are many injurious species. Some are commonly called spider mites. Mites are not insects, but belong to the animal class Arachnida, along with spiders and ticks. Some mites may injure humans or animals; others are beneficial predators of plant pests. Control can be difficult because some mites complete their life cycle in 7-10 days and the egg stage is resistant to most chemicals. Scouting and proper timing of treatments are critical to good control. Repeat applications may be necessary.

Japanese Beetles

A non-native pest that was first seen in the early 1900s. The adult beetles are active from June to October. The females lay their eggs in the soil and the white grubs feed on roots in the fall until it gets cold and then they move deep into the soil for the winter. They move back up to feed on roots in the spring and then pupate and emerge as adults in May or June. Our early spring systemic insecticide protects the plants from these beetles; however, they must feed on a small amount of the plant to ingest the insecticide. If you see beetles feeding on treated plants you should also see dead beetles around the base of the plants.


There are many different kinds of scales. Not all plants are hosts for scale and some scales will only infest certain types of plants. They can be difficult to control because there is only a short period in their life cycle when insecticides are effective on them. The most effective control if you miss the crawling stage where insecticides are effective is to treat with a dormant oil that suffocates the scale.


Very small 1/8” bugs that have delicate clear wings with many veins giving them the appearance of lace. They are capable of having several generations in one year. They damage plants by sucking the sap and cell contents from the underside of the leaves. Azaleas are a favorite host of these insects. Our early spring systemic insecticide is very effective on these insects.

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