I believe my neighbor's and my cherry trees are infested with either termites...

Asked August 4, 2014, 1:02 PM EDT

I believe my neighbor's and my cherry trees are infested with either termites or stag beetles. Trees are original to home site...approx. 18 years old on north facing portion of front yard.We have not had construction on our sites, but the school located about half a block's distance from us has had an extensive renovation {still in process} for over a year. Neighbor's tree was not all that healthy even before the construction at the school site and has shown extensive damage over last two years with trunk split open vertically and leaves dropping early {like right now in July and August} and now my tree is showing signs of damage with the bark beginning to peel open as well as fungus type areas. Eight houses in our cul-de-sac. Other trees OK except that my neighbor to my left actually cut down his tree. I do not know if there had been a problem with it. I am very worried that either these insects will move towards the house to do damage or that one or the other of the trees will fall during a storm, but first need to know what type of insect it is. Whatever it is, it does have a pincher, but looks to me to be similar to either the stag beetle or the soldier termite. I do not see an active open colony of the other stages of termites on the split open tree, but I don't really want to gouge into my tree or my neighbor's. Houses are very close to each other where we live, so I want to be sure to address this problem before it gets any worse. Thank you

Anne Arundel County Maryland trees and shrubs earwigs growth cracks cherry trees

4 Responses

The insect in your photo looks like an earwig. They are not causing the decline of the tree. They are common insects in the garden and occasionally in the home.

They live in dark, moist places such as under stones, in mulch, soil and plant debris. They are mostly nocturnal and do not attack people. See our website for more information http://extension.umd.edu/learn/earwigs

You can send photos of the tree and trunk damage so we can see what you are referring to. Many cherry trees have been affected by a leaf spot called cherry shot hole. You may notice yellow leaves with reddish brown spots and leaf drop. The fungus overwinters on fallen leaves, and good control can be achieved by raking and removing all cherry leaves from the planting area. No chemical control is recommended.
The trunk of the tree may have been affected by a growth crack. Growth cracks usually appear when the tree is growing rapidly during periods of abundant rainfall. See our website http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/shade-trees-frost-cracks-sunscald-growth-cracks
You can also contact a certified arborist for an onsite diagnosis regarding the health of your tree. http://www.treesaregood.org/
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I did examine the leaves of both my tree and my neighbor's and I do believe you are correct that the leaves display cherry spot. I have been raking every week, so is this going to be an on-going issue every year? Pictures attached are of my tree and my neighbor's tree. It looks to me that some type of fungus is infecting my tree {images 0386 &0388} My neighbor's tree is image 0381 which shows the tree actually split open and dead decaying interior. This is not a healthy situation.....thank you

I did examine the leaves of both my tree and my neighbor's and I do believe you are correct that the leaves display cherry spot. I have been raking every week, so is this going to be an on-going issue every year? Pictures attached are of my tree and my neighbor's tree. It looks to me that some type of fungus is infecting my tree {images 0386 &0388} My neighbor's tree is image 0381 which shows the tree actually split open and dead decaying interior. This is not a healthy situation.....thank you

There are several foliar fungal diseases that will attack cherry trees, but like almost all such diseases, they are opportunistic and will attack stressed trees when the weather conditions are conducive to fungal disease. This spring was the perfect scenario. If weather conditions next year are similar, the disease could reoccur, but let's hope for a more 'normal' spring.
The greenish/gray material on the bark of the tree are lichens. These are harmless to the tree. Lichens are a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and an alga and they feed off of each other. They typically attach themselves to surfaces that do not move. Mature trees do not grow as fast as younger trees, so the lichens will frequently attach to healthy trees. Their appearance on a tree can sometimes be indicative of a dying or dead tree that is no longer growing.
The split bark on your tree is probably due to the weather conditions as suggested in the previous response. A healthy tree can isolate such a wound and continue to live for several years.
Your neighbor's tree is in serious trouble. The heartwood is seriously compromised and even though the tree may still be green and living, the integrity of the tree has been compromised and could fall over in a wind storm. If the tree is close to a structure or driveway, etc., it should be removed.
LS