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Common Tree Pests and Diseases

Serving Atlanta GA and Nashville TN

Common tree pests and diseases in Atlanta GA and Nashville TN | AKA Tree Service

With massive limbs and deep roots, trees can give the impression that they’re impervious – invincible, even – but this simply isn’t true. Despite their immense strength, trees can fall victim to a range of pests and diseases. These can lead to a variety of issues, including the death of the tree. 

Since early detection and intervention is the best defense, we’ve put together this information on common tree pests and diseases in the Southeast – and what you can do if you think you’re dealing with them. Follow along as we discuss the risks and treatments of common tree pests and disease threats here in Atlanta, GA.

List of Tree Diseases and Pests

Unfortunately, the threats of diseases and pests to your trees are a daily reality. Consistent tree pruning and care can help keep your garden healthy, but even these measures don’t always protect a tree from disease. Controlling pests and diseases early will help preserve your trees and keep them healthy. Because of this, it’s common for ISA-certified arborists to get questions about tree illnesses. 

Here are some common pests and tree diseases you should be aware of in Atlanta, GA:

closeup of cracked bark on oak tree, signs of oak wilt

Oak Wilt

Oak wilt (also referred to as Ceratocystis fagacearum) is a vascular disease affecting various oak species in the Southeast U.S. It spreads through root grafts and insect vectors, causing leaf discoloration, wilt, and death. The disease poses a risk to both urban and natural oak forests.

The white petals on a flowering dogwood tree show the spotted red and brown signs of a disease called anthracnose.

Dogwood Anthracnose

Dogwood trees in the Southeast are susceptible to anthracnose (specifically Discula destructiva), a fungal disease causing leaf spots, stem cankers, and dieback. Severe infections can result in defoliation and the decline of these iconic trees in the region.

Fungal disease Powdery mildew on foliage close up

Powdery Mildew

Typically noticed late in the growing season, powdery mildew is a disease that commonly develops in hot, humid weather. This disease looks like an accumulation of white dust on the leaves of a tree. If ignored, the powdery mildew can lead to death in affected areas and result in stunted tree growth. Dogwoods and crepe myrtles that grow in areas with poor air circulation can be particularly vulnerable to this disease. If you notice a white dust-like substance or white spots on the leaves of your tree, then contact a tree service for treatment.

Closeup of Black Knot disease covering a branch

Black Knot

Commonly affecting purple leaf plum trees, black knot disease is usually noticed during the winter once all the leaves have fallen. Black knot manifests as abnormal bumps on a tree’s branches that typically cause them to become distorted or bent. These swellings tend to be dense and dark or black, and their size can be up to a foot in length and two inches in diameter. If you notice these symptoms on one of your trees, then consider contacting an ISA-certified arborist.

Tree pests galls of Neuroterus numismalis, oak leaf blister, on oak leaves isolated

Oak Leaf Blister

Often developing in the spring when conditions are mild, wet, and humid, oak leaf blisters typically infect the leaves of oak trees when buds start to open. The symptoms of this tree disease include discolored, blister-like markings on the upper surfaces of leaves. The blisters can be as wide as half an inch, and the leaves have corresponding depressions on the lower surface of the leaf that are gray in color. All oak species are susceptible to oak leaf blister, and while the disease does not cause serious damage to trees, it can give them an unsightly appearance and may result in premature leaf drop.

Pecan Scab

Pecan trees in the Southeast are susceptible to pecan scab (referred to as Venturia effusa), a fungal disease affecting leaves, nuts, and twigs. Severe infections can lead to defoliation and reduce nut quality, impacting the region’s pecan industry and orchards.
Emerald Ash Borer Showing Its Colors on Georgia tree

Emerald Ash Borer

Infesting ash trees, the emerald ash borer (Agrilus planipennis) is an invasive beetle that disrupts nutrient flow, causing canopy dieback and eventual tree death. The presence of this pest poses a significant threat to ash tree populations in the Southeast.
Closeup on a large Southern Pine Beetle

Southern Pine Beetle

This destructive insect targets pine trees, particularly stressed or weakened ones. Infestations from the Southern Pine Beetle (Dendroctonus frontalis) can lead to widespread pine mortality, impacting forest ecosystems and the timber industry in the Southeast.

close up of Japanese Beetle - Popillia japonica - on a leaf

Japanese Beetle

Japanese beetles are an invasive species that can feast on the leaves of the trees in your yard. You can identify the Japanese beetle by looking for its brown thorax.

Bagworms pests attaching cocoons to evergreen tree too become bagworm moths


Bagworms are grub-like insects that feed on mature tree leaves and branches. When they gather in large numbers, they can completely strip plants of their leaves, which can eventually kill the plants. These infestations are often hard to spot because the cocoon bagworms live in look a lot like pine cones or other natural parts of plants. This camouflage makes it easy to overlook them until the damage becomes severe.

7 Signs of Common Tree Diseases

Healthy trees are a beautiful addition to any landscape. If your yard’s trees are diseased and unhealthy, however, they can pose a safety threat to your loved ones and your home. A tree service company that offers tree removal can help you identify and remove diseased trees from your yard. From emergency tree cutting to standard tree removal and more, your certified arborists will provide you with the services that you need to ensure that your trees are healthy and strong. 

To help you determine when it is time to schedule tree removal, here is a look at the signs of 7 of the most common tree diseases.

  1. Leaf Rust – If a tree is affected by leaf rust, it may develop a distinctive orange or reddish spotting on its leaves.
  2. Fire Blight Fire blight gives trees a burned or charred look, even if they have never been touched by a fire.
  3. Powdery Mildew – To determine the health of your trees, check their leaves for signs of damage or strange colorations. When the leaves on your trees start to appear dusty or white, this may indicate that you have a powdery mildew infestation.
  4. Gall – Gall is actually a type of fungus that prefers to grow on the trunks and branches of mature trees.
  5. Witch’s Broom – As its descriptive name suggests, witch’s broom is a cluster of broom-like branches and twigs that can pop up in the middle of a tree’s branch.
  6. Canker – Canker appears as whitish growths along a tree’s trunk.
  7. Leaf Spot – Much like leaf rust, leaf spot causes discoloration on the leaves of a tree.

Tree Pest and Disease Control FAQs

Yes, just like you can catch a cold from someone who’s coughing and sneezing, trees can spread diseases and pests from one to another. That’s why severely infected trees often have to be removed to prevent spread. If one of your trees is infested with pests or infected with disease, the surrounding trees should be inspected to ensure they are not infected.

Trees that are stressed, damaged, or lacking proper nutrients struggle to fight off diseases or pests. Ensuring your trees are healthy and receiving the right amount of sun, water, and fertilizer goes a long way. It can also help your trees heal correctly.

Yes, left untreated pests such as bark beetles and diseases such as Sudden Oak Death are known to kill trees in the Southeast U.S. Taking proactive preventative measures to stop pests and disease and treating infections early will help keep your tree healthy and standing tall for many years to come.

Call AKA Tree Service for Tree Pest and Disease Management

If your trees face threats from pests and diseases, AKA Tree Service will bring them back to health. Our pest and disease control services are backed by certified arborists and proven techniques to tackle infestations and stop the spread of diseases.

From bugs to fungi, we specialize in keeping your landscape green and beautiful! Contact us today to get started with a pest and disease service consultation.

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Common Tree Pests and Diseases in Central GA

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