Oak trees turning brown

Asked July 1, 2015, 9:55 PM EDT

Most of of oaks (I think they are shingle oaks?) are turning brown and skeletony and seem to have traces of webs underneath. We have many trees that are totally brown and many more that are turning. Is there anything we can do?

Pulaski County Kentucky

1 Response

Hi, oaks do have a number of caterpillars that can defoliate. When I hear skeletonize, I think of Japanese beetles which I doubt are causing the problem you're referring to. First, it's always good to get a positive ID of the critter in question. If you find one of the caterpillars that might be problematic (or any other critter you might think is doing the damage), let's get it identified. Bring the sample to the Pulaski Co Extension office. Or get a good picture.

Second, if we find an insect is the problem you have to ask yourself 'Is it practical to spray this mature oak?'. The answer is usually no. Generally, trees can take some defoliation and not be stressed too badly. It usually takes several years of this type of stress for a tree to not be as robust as it once was.

That being said, stressed trees usually are more likely to have disease and insect problems. Sometimes we can fight the disease or insect but many times if we can correct whatever is causing the stress, trees will turn around.