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Author: Burkholder PHC

Cottony Camellia Scale Insects: A Threat to Pennsylvania’s Plants

Scale insects are small, sap-sucking pests that can cause significant damage to a wide variety of plants. Among these pests, cottony camellia scales (Pulvinaria floccifera) are particularly troublesome for gardeners and homeowners in Pennsylvania. In this blog post, we explore the characteristics, damage, and effects of this invasive insect on local plants and how to control them using horticultural oils and other methods.

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What are Cottony Camellia Scale Insects?

    Cottony camellia scales are soft scale insects that infest many plants, including hydrangea, maple, and English ivy. These insects are characterized by their oval, yellow-brownish bodies with a waxy coating and can grow up to ⅛” (3 mm) in length. Another distinctive characteristic is cottony white masses that the insects produce to protect their eggs, which the females lay on the underside of leaves. Cottony camellia scales typically have one generation per year, with eggs hatching in late spring or early summer. addition, the females lay these egg masses on the underside of leaves.

    Damage Caused by Cottony Camellia Scale Insects

    When scales infest a plant, they feed on the sap, weakening the plant and causing leaves to turn yellow and drop. Feeding on the sap can also stunt the plant’s growth and leave it vulnerable to diseases. In addition, these insects excrete a sticky substance called honeydew during feeding, which attracts ants and promotes the growth of sooty molds. These molds can further weaken the plant by blocking sunlight from reaching its leaves.

    • One leaf with Cottony Camellia Scale Insects | Burkholder PHC


    • Leaves with Cottony Camellia Scale Insects egg mass | Burkholder PHC


    • Tree Leaves with Cottony Camellia Scale Insects and egg mass| Burkholder PHC


    Pennsylvania Plants Affected

    In Pennsylvania, cottony camellia scale insects have been found on various affected plants, including hydrangea, maple, mulberry, and pittosporum. The damage scale insects cause can be particularly severe in ornamental plants, reducing their aesthetic value and potentially killing them if left untreated.

    Controlling Cottony Camellia

    One effective method for controlling cottony camellia scale insects is horticultural oils. These oils are applied directly to the affected plant, smothering the insects and their eggs. Horticultural oils have several advantages over traditional pesticides, including being less toxic to beneficial insects and having a lower risk of causing pesticide resistance.

    In addition to horticultural oils, other control methods for cottony camellia scale insects include pruning infested branches and encouraging the presence of natural predators, such as ladybugs and lacewings. Regular monitoring and early intervention are crucial to preventing severe infestations and maintaining healthy plants.

    Cottony camellia scale insects pose a significant threat to Pennsylvania’s plants. However, we can minimize the damage that these pests cause with proper plant health care.

    Contact Burkholder PHC for Scale Insect Treatment

    If you suspect your plants may be infested with cottony camellia scales or other insects, contact Burkholder PHC for more information or to schedule a consultation. Our team of qualified plant health care experts has years of experience managing and controlling pest populations. We are here to help you protect your plants and keep your landscape healthy and vibrant.

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    What You Need to Know About Japanese Beetles

    As part of our ongoing series on invasive insects, this article focuses on Japanese beetles, a significant concern for homeowners and gardeners due to their destructive impact on over 300 species of ornamental plants. This article will discuss the characteristics, life cycle, and damage caused by Japanese beetles in Pennsylvania. We will also explore various control methods and offer tips for preventing infestations.

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    How Japanese Beetles Came to Pennsylvania

    Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica) are invasive insects native to Japan, as the name implies. The Japanese beetle was introduced into the U.S. in 1916 near Riverton, New Jersey, and likely arrived in the United States on ornamental nursery stock. The pest soon spread throughout the eastern United States, being detected on the west coast as early as the 1940s. Since then, the pest has spread throughout much of North America, affecting most states and Canada.

    Japanese Beetle Appearance

    Adult Japanese beetles are about one-half of an inch long with a shiny metallic green body and copper-colored wing covers, and their neck, head, and legs are reddish-brown. The adult beetles also have two patches of white hairs at the tip of their abdomen and five tufts of white hairs on both sides of their abdomen. In addition, adult beetles often have orange wing tips, which show when they are flying to escape predators or when disturbed. The larvae, or grubs, are creamy-white with brown heads and three pairs of legs on the thorax region (where the wings and legs attach to the main body).

    Japanese Beetle on a leaf | Burkholder PHC
    Japanese Beetle Damage | Burkholder PHC

    Japanese Beetle Damage

    Beetle Life Cycle

    The beetle’s life cycle is completed in approximately one year in Pennsylvania. Female beetles lay eggs in the soil under host plants in late June through mid-August. Then, the beetle larvae will hatch after two weeks and feed on grass roots until winter. Japanese beetles spend the winter buried in the ground, moving towards the surface as the spring season approaches and the weather gets warm. During this time, the larvae will continue to feed on grass roots until they mature, usually from late May through June.

    From late June to July (around June 20 in the southern areas of Pennsylvania), the larvae will have matured into adult beetles and emerge from the ground. While Japanese beetles begin emerging from the soil around late June, the pests are most abundant during July. When mating, female beetles lay around 40-60 eggs in the soil, where the life cycle repeats.

    As mentioned previously, the beetles feed on more than 300 species of host plants, from ornamental plants to even fruit and crops. The larvae only feed on grass roots, while the adult beetles feed on a much more extensive range of plants. Some common ornamental plants the pest feeds on include roses, flowering cherries, marigolds, and birch—adult beetles damage plants by “skeletonizing” the foliage. “Skeletonizing” means that the beetles consume only the leaf material between the veins. As a result, these leaves may turn brown and eventually fall off.

    Adults feed during the day and tend to favor hot weather and plants growing with total exposure to the sun. The larvae, meanwhile, damage lawns by chewing grass roots, causing the turf to brown and die. The result is that the turf pulls up easily from the soil, or dead patches of grass form if the problem is severe.

    Japanese Beetle Treatment & Management

    Our plant health care specialists have a specific treatment program for managing the beetles and protecting your plants. For example, one pest management treatment method for Japanese beetle populations in a landscape is pesticide application.

    Methods for controlling and eliminating Japanese beetles include:

    • Biological approaches: Introducing natural predators, such as parasitic wasps or flies, can help control beetle populations.
    • Chemical approaches: Pesticide applications by plant health care specialists can manage beetle infestations and protect plants.
    • Cultural approaches: Removing rotting tree fruit and maintaining a healthy lawn can help prevent beetle infestations.

    Traps are also available, but the trapping method is used more as a monitoring tool to measure the extent of pest presence of the pest. Traps use floral lures or female pheromones to attract beetles, so the traps could attract more beetles to your landscape. Like the pesticides, these traps should be handled by a professional plant health care specialist to ensure that they are used correctly.

    Japanese Beetles on a tree | Burkholder PHC

    Contact Burkholder PHC for Japanese Beetle Treatment in Your Landscape

    Japanese beetles can be a significant issue for homeowners, as the beetles negatively affect the appearance and health of their plants and lawn. If you have plants that show signs of the pest’s activity or want to keep your landscape safe from them, reach out to Burkholder PHC. Our team will conduct a plant health care evaluation and diagnosis of your landscape and inform you of your treatment options. We provide no-cost identification of the situation in addition to free testing, diagnostics, inspections, and evaluations. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    What You Need To Know About the Spotted Lanternfly

    What is the spotted lanternfly? If you live in Pennsylvania, you have probably already seen this insect. The spotted lanternfly (lycorma delicatula or SLF) is an invasive species native to China and Southeast Asia.

    The pest was discovered in Pennsylvania in 2014, specifically Berks County, and has spread throughout Pennsylvania and neighboring states: north to Massachusetts, south to North Carolina, and west to Indiana and Michigan (See the Spotted Lanternfly distribution map for the mid-Atlantic area). The spotted lanternfly feeds on and damages many different plant species.

    Many homeowners have reported sightings and damage from this pest, both direct damage by feeding and secondary damage due to excessive sooty mold formation on lanternfly excrement (honeydew). As part of our series on invasive insects, here is what you need to know and what you can do if you spot the colorful insect around your property.

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    What You Need to Know About the Spotted Lanternfly

    As of 2023, the spotted lanternfly is reported to be found in 51 Pennsylvania counties and can build to astounding numbers when left unmanaged. While many Pennsylvania residents have spotted this invasive species on their landscapes, we have some information to help those who want to keep their landscape free from invasive insects.


    Adult spotted lanternflies can be identified by their coloration and bodies. The insect has grayish wings with black spots; the tips are black and gray, while the bodies are black. When flying, spotted lanternflies will show vibrant red hind wings. Adults are around 1 inch long and a half-inch wide with wings folded. They can jump several feet when startled or approached.

    You can also identify the pest via their egg masses or nymph stage. Egg masses are typically found on tree bark on the underside of scaffold branches and occasionally on other smooth surfaces such as rocks, outdoor furniture, and even vehicles. The mass is usually around 1 inch long and a half to three-quarters of an inch wide, with a gray-brown, mud-like covering.

    Spotted lanternfly nymphs are much smaller than adults, only about 1/8 to 1/2 an inch long (depending on instar: a phase between two periods of molting in the development of an insect larva or other invertebrate). However, nymphs have distinct coloration: initially black with white spots and wingless, developing red patches/red patches and white spots as they mature.

    Spotted lanternfly on leaf | spotted lanternfly | Burkholder Brothers
    Spotted lanternflies clustered on tree | spotted lanternfly | Burkholder Brothers

    Behavior & Problems

    Spotted lanternflies feed on plant sap, and at a high population, this can cause significant damage to an area’s plant life. While known to feed on over 70 different plants, spotted lanternflies have strongly preferred the tree of heaven (ailanthus altissima), grapevines, maple trees, black walnut, birch, willow, and styrax.

    Feeding on tree and plant sap can cause wilting, leaf curling, and dieback. In addition, as the SLF feeds on plant sap, the insect excretes a sugary substance called “honeydew,” which can attract bees, wasps, and other insects, and promotes the growth of sooty mold, which causes further damage to plants.

    Here are the months each life stage occurs to help you better identify the plant pest on your property.

    Egg masses: The invasive pest usually lays eggs from September to November, and lanternflies spend the winter as eggs.

    Nymphs: Nymphs will first hatch around May to June and mature until around July to September.

    Adults: July to September is when most spotted lanternflies have matured into adults; mating and egg-laying can continue until December.

    The insect has become so prevalent that Pennsylvania has put affected counties under quarantine to stop the movement and slow the insect’s spread to new areas within or out of the current quarantine zone. The quarantine involves traveling and transporting outdoor items.

    What You Can Do

    If you see any spotted lanternfly or signs of its damage on your property, contact Burkholder Plant Health 

    Care (PHC). Burkholder PHC treats for spotted lanternflies as part of our plant health care program. Our plant health care program emphasizes proper diagnosis and precise treatment, using only state-of-the-art, research-backed methods and equipment. We also utilize various pest management and control processes to protect your landscape from invasive, harmful pests.

    Learn About The Spotted Lanternfly Quarantine in PA

    Additional Spotted Lanternfly Resources

    For more information about spotted lanternfly issues in Pennsylvania, you may wish to visit the following resource links.

    Cooperative State Program Homepage

    Cooperative State Program Map

    Pennsylvania Quarantine Details/Updates

    Pennsylvania Quarantine Map

    Mid-Atlantic SLF Distribution Map

    Contact Burkholder Brothers for Plant Health Care Services

    If you want to keep your landscape beautiful, healthy, and free of spotted lanternfly, contact Burkholder PHC for a consultation. Our team of plant health care professionals has decades of experience helping homeowners keep their landscapes as healthy and vibrant as possible. In addition, we have up-to-date knowledge of the latest plant health care methods, from pest control to soil care and more. For more information on our services, contact us today.

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    What Is Boxwood Leafminer?

    Boxwood leafminer is a common pest that affects boxwood shrubs. These pests appear as tiny flies on the undersides of boxwood leaves and cause significant damage to boxwood shrubs by feeding on the leaf tissue. The species was first reported as a pest in the United States in 1910 and is now found across the United States wherever boxwood grows.

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    Boxwood Leafminer Appearance

    Adult boxwood leafminers are small, less than 1/16 inch long, have a yellowish-orange coloration, and are similar to gnat-like flies. These leafminers have two pairs of wings and six long, thin legs. The eggs are white to transparent and hatch into small whitish or lemon-yellow 3mm long larvae or maggots. These larvae initially lack any legs, but they gain legs as they age.

    Boxwood Leafminer Life Stages

    The life cycle of boxwood leafminer is broken down into four stages: egg, larva (or maggot), pupa, and adult.

    1. Egg: Females lay eggs on the undersides of leaves in summer. They hatch into larvae within about two days. On average, females lay around 29 eggs and die soon afterward. The eggs take anywhere from 14-21 days to hatch.
    2. Larvae: Larvae emerge from the eggs after hatching. Then the larvae feed on the leaves the remainder of summer through early fall. Larvae pupate in late winter.
    3. Pupa: Pupating is a stage when insects transition from larvae to adults. Eventually, the leafminers emerge in May.
    4. Adult: Adult leafminers mate soon after emerging and the females deposit their eggs in new foliage by thrusting a curved needle-like ovipositor through the lower surface of the leaf, and the cycle repeats.

    Boxwood Leafminer Damage

    The boxwood leafminer damages the leaves by laying eggs on them, which, as mentioned previously, hatch into larvae that feed on the leaves until maturing into adults. The laying of the eggs and the larvae feeding on the upper and lower leaf surfaces causes leaf blisters on the infested leaves. These blisters can become discolored and leaf drop may result.

    Homeowners may see premature leaf drop (when green leaves turn brown before falling off), stunted growth, and yellow spots in some areas where leafminers have been feeding.

    Managing & Controlling Boxwood Leafminer

    To manage and control infestations, a plant health care professional needs to identify the presence of leafminers by examining a property. Once identified, our expert can prune and dispose of heavily infested branches to prevent the spread of the infestation.

    square image of boxwood leafminer damage | Burkholder PHC

    Systemic insecticides, soaps, and horticultural oils can effectively control leafminers. These pesticides and insecticides should be cautiously applied.

    Because these pesticides can have adverse side effects on other plants or beneficial insects, a plant health care expert should be the one using these treatments. In addition, proper cultural practices, such as regular pruning, fertilization, and irrigation, can help prevent and minimize boxwood leafminers’ impact.

    Contact Burkholder Brothers for Plant Health Care Services

    If you want to keep your plants healthy and prevent the damage boxwood leafminer populations can cause, contact Burkholder PHC for a consultation. We are a team of certified professionals with decades of experience caring for and maintaining healthy plants and trees for Main Line residents. In addition, we have up-to-date knowledge of the latest and best practices on plant health care and pest control methods. For more information on our services, contact us today.

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    Burkholder PHC Contributes to New Plant Health Care Discoveries and Achievements

    Malvern, Pennsylvania – March 15, 2023– Burkholder PHC has recently been recognized for several notable Plant Health Care discoveries and occurrences. Starker Wright, manager of Burkholder PHC, has been directly involved in the following:

    • Federal quarantine identification of white rust on chrysanthemum, confirmed by USDA-APHIS.
    • First active sampling program in Pennsylvania for vascular streak dieback disease in redbud.
    • First identification of crape myrtle bark scale in Pennsylvania, confirmed by Penn State Insect ID Lab.
    • First identification of camphor shot borer damage in hemlocks, confirmed by Penn State Insect ID Lab.
    • Submission of field research article “Pre-Emergent Control of Spotted Lanternfly” in collaboration with Bartlett Tree Experts.
    • Continuing research with Bartlett Tree Experts and University of Maryland on potential impact of native predators on spotted lanternfly eggs.

    Starker Wright, Plant Health Care Manager | Burkholder Plant Health Care

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    About Starker Wright

    Mr. Wright has extensive knowledge and practice in the field of plant health care, beginning with a degree from the University of Massachusetts in agroecology. Mr. Wright’s experience includes

    • serving for 8 years as the field coordinator of the University of Massachusetts Tree Fruit Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program
    • developing and testing biologically based management techniques for key native and invasive pests of tree fruit with the Insect Behavior and Ecology Program at the Appalachian Fruit Research Station with USDA-Agricultural Research Service in West Virginia
    • authoring and co-authoring over 80 research and extension publications, focusing on integration of biological, cultural, and chemical management of tree health
    • working with Bartlett Tree Experts in Dublin, Pennsylvania as a Plant Health Care Specialist, Arborist Representative, and Local Office Manager
    • working as Plant Health Care manager for Burkholder PHC in Malvern, PA

    About Burkholder Plant Health Care

    Burkholder Plant Health Care is a sister company to Burkholder Landscape, a local company that has been a full-service landscape designer caring for plants and landscapes since 1996. The company has a staff of plant specialists that is educated, trained, experienced, and certified to manage all insect and disease pests, soil chemistry, and plant physiological problems to deliver genuine, lasting results. Burkholder PHC’s program emphasizes proper diagnosis and precise treatment, along with state-of-the-art, research-backed methods and equipment. The team strives to maintain a close relationship of open and reliable communication with all clients, building partnerships that will promote the development of beautiful, long-lasting, healthy landscapes. For more information about recent plant health care discoveries or the company, visit their website at or call 610-426-1662.

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    Invasive Insects: Introduction

    Invasive insects can be a threat to your lawn and home. In addition to disrupting or harming residential landscapes, many invasive pests negatively impact local environments if these insects spread and reproduce. Therefore, pest management is crucial to protecting landscapes and preventing these species from damaging lawns as much as possible. This article will highlight how these insects can spread and which species we will discuss in future articles.

    Learn About Seasonal Plant Health Concerns

    How Invasive Insects Spread

    Insects can spread in several different ways. Some species can fly long distances, while others rely on the movement of infested materials such as plants or wood products. Movement of infested materials can involve humans or animals carrying them from place to place on their bodies or clothing and through contaminated food or water. In some cases, invasive insects may be carried along with other products, such as fruit trees and lumber logs, known as “hitchhiking.” Some invasive species may even travel across oceans by hitching rides on boats.

    Spotted Lanternfly

    The spotted lanternfly is an insect introduced to the United States in 2014, native to China and India, that has since spread to 14 states including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Delaware. The spotted lanternfly feeds on various tree species, including fruit trees like apples and grapes and hardwood trees like maples and willows. This pest leaves scars on leaves by feeding on them, which can interfere with photosynthesis. Other damages caused by the spotted lanternfly include dead shoots at the ends of branches, dieback or defoliation, reduced tree growth rates, and increased susceptibility to disease outbreaks.

    Spotted lanternfly on plant | Invasive insects | Burkholder PHC

    Emerald Ash Borer

      An emerald ash borer is a metallic green beetle that feeds on ash trees. The insect was first discovered in the United States in Michigan in 2002 and has since spread to at least 30 states. Emerald ash borer has killed tens of millions of ash trees in the United States. The wood-boring beetle infests ash trees and feeds on the inner phloem, cambium, and outer xylem, causing crown dieback, bark deformities, D-shaped exit holes, woodpecker feeding holes, and yellowing foliage.

      Japanese Beetle

      The Japanese beetle is an invasive insect species that feeds on the roots of turfgrasses found in home lawns, golf courses, and athletic fields. This species of beetle has a striking appearance. The head and thorax are metallic green, the abdomen is metallic green with black spots, and the legs are dark green.

      japanese beetle on chewed leaves | Invasive insects | Burkholder PHC

      Balsam Woolly Adelgid

      Balsam woolly adelgids are small wingless insects that infest and kill fir trees, mainly balsam fir and Fraser fir (common Christmas trees). The adelgid feeds on the tree’s needles, causing them to turn brown, die off and fall off the tree prematurely. Balsam woolly adelgids are native to Europe and were first detected in North America around 1900. Since then, they have spread across the United States and have caused extensive damage to mature stands of balsam fir trees.

      Contact Burkholder PHC for Invasive Pest Treatment & Removal

      If you are concerned about invasive insects harming your landscape and want to keep your property safe, contact Burkholder PHC. We provide a free evaluation from our highly experienced, qualified plant health care experts to help remove and control various invasive insect species and any adverse effects these pests may cause. Contact Burkholder PHC today for a free consultation.

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      What Are Soil Amendments?

      Soil amendments are products added to the soil to improve soil’s physical, chemical, or biological properties. Some of these properties that amendments are used for include increasing soil fertility or water-holding capacity and decreasing compaction or erosion. Soil amendment differs from fertilizer by modifying the condition of the soil itself, whereas fertilizer adds nutrients to the soil.

      There are also 2 general categories that soil amendments fall under: organic and inorganic.

      Organic soil amendments are composed of materials that were previously living matter. In contrast, inorganic amendments are made of mined or artificially created materials.

      Some organic materials used in soil amendments include:

      • Wood chips
      • Grass clippings
      • Compost
      • Manure
      • Sawdust

      A few examples of inorganic materials include:

      • Lime
      • Gypsum
      • Rock powders

      Burkholder spray rig- Soil amendments -Burkholder PHC

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      When Should Soil Amendment Be Used?

      One reason to use soil amendments is to alter the soil’s pH. The soil’s pH level needs to be within a specific range to give plants adequate access to nutrients. For example, some plants prefer more acidic soil, while others thrive in more alkaline soil. You will need to have a plant health care specialist test your soil to determine its current pH and what treatment is required to help your plants’ health.

      Regarding the time of year, soil amendments can be applied at any time, but the ideal times are early spring or late fall. This is because soil amendments are more easily incorporated when the soil is bare and dry. If you apply them in the spring, they will be more effective at helping your plants grow because you will be fertilizing your plants and improving the soil. When soil amendments are applied in the fall, they will have time over winter to break down and become part of the soil before you plant again in spring. The types of soil amendments used also differ depending on the season.

      Rake in Soil | Plant Health Care Soil Amemdments by Burkholder PHC

      Spring Soil Amendment

      During spring, we recommend a potassium-only fertilizer with the necessary nutrients. This helps improve the plant’s resistance to stress factors such as disease pressure, extreme temperature fluctuations, and drought conditions. In addition, this systemic nutrient formulation stimulates health and vigor without triggering excess physical growth.

      Fall Soil Amendment

      During the fall, plants absorb and store nutrients for the initial spring growth period. As a result, supplying the nutrients often lacking in landscape soils is vital. We fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer to ensure the availability of essential macro and micronutrients. This amendment also gives plants and trees the sustenance necessary for healthy growth and resistance to insects, disease, and harsh environmental conditions.

      Benefits of Soil Amendment

      One of the benefits is restoring your soil’s pH balance. If the pH balance of the soil is too high or low, certain nutrients (potassium, nitrogen, and other elements) become more difficult or less available for plants to absorb, which can negatively impact the health of the plants. As a result, plant health care experts will use soil amendments to modify the soil’s pH balance.

      Some of the other benefits of soil amendments include the following:

      • Organic materials in soil amendments help encourage plant growth.
      • Soil amendments help improve aeration, prevent soil compaction, allow air to flow more freely, and improve the soil’s drainage.
      • Organic soil amendments can improve certain soils by improving the soil’s ability to store nutrients and water.

      Contact Burkholder PHC for Soil Care Services

      plants growing in dark soil | soil amendment | Burkholder  PHC

      If you want to keep your plants and trees healthy with soil amendments, contact Burkholder PHC. We offer many plant health care services in addition to soil care, such as plant growth regulators, plant pest control, and more. In addition, our team of specialists has years of experience maintaining the health and vibrancy of landscapes in the Main Line area. For more information about our services, request a free consultation today.

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      Plant Health Care Outlook

      The trend of the past 10 years in residential landscapes has been increasing pressure from insect pests, diseases, and vertebrates. We fully expect that this will continue in 2023 and that the plant health care outlook for the next year will include the following conditions.

      1. Increase of insect pest number and variety that will affect more ornamental plants
      2. A wet spring will bring increased soil and foliar disease pressure
      3. Damage from deer will certainly continue to increase for the foreseeable future

      In addition, we are just about due for the next invasive landscape pest, following emerald ash borer (1992), brown marmorated stink bug (2001), and spotted lanternfly (2014). Investing in a program to manage the biological health of landscape plants and keep soil in good shape is the best way to ensure your landscape not only survives, but thrives. Burkholder Plant Health Care offers a broad variety of programs to control insects and diseases that are damaging plants, vertebrate pests that are eating investments, and bugs that bite, sting, and transmit diseases to people and pets.

      Learn About Seasonal PHC Issues

      New Discoveries and Achievements by Burkholder Plant Health Care

      Burkholder PHC’s manager, Starker Wright, has been busy in the field. His work, extensive research and education, and his vast experience have led to the following achievements.

      • First identification of crape myrtle bark scale in Pennsylvania (West Chester), confirmed by Penn State Insect ID Lab.
      • Federal quarantine identification of white rust on chrysanthemum (Berwyn), confirmed by USDA-APHIS.
      • First identification of camphor shot borer damage in hemlocks (Phoenixville), confirmed by Penn State Insect ID Lab.
      • First active sampling program in Pennsylvania for vascular streak dieback disease in redbud.
      • Submission of field research article “Pre-Emergent Control of Spotted Lanternfly” in collaboration with Bartlett Tree Experts.
      • Continuing research with Bartlett Tree Experts and University of Maryland on potential impact of native predators on spotted lanternfly eggs.

      Burkhoolder PHC Spray Rig - plant health care outlook

      Did You Know? Plant Health Care News

      On January 10th, Burning Bush (Winged Euonymus, Euonymus alatus) and four species of privet (Japanese, Border, Chinese, and Common) will be added to the list of invasive plants that will no longer be allowed to be grown for sale in Pennsylvania (

      These plants will join Callery (Bradford) Pear and Japanese Barberry on the Pennsylvania Controlled Plant and Noxious Weeds List, overseen by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Controlled Plant and Noxious Weed Committee (CPNWC). Many other plants are still under consideration to be banned, based on recommendations by the Pennsylvania Governor’s Invasive Species Council (PISC). The current candidate list can be seen at

      In Pennsylvania, a noxious plant is “identified as a plant that is determined to be injurious to public health, crops, livestock, agricultural land or other property and cannot be sold, transported, planted, or otherwise propagated in Pennsylvania”.

      Every plant that leaves the property of Burkholder Landscaping and Sauder’s Nursery has been proactively monitored and treated to minimize spread insect and disease pests. This does not guarantee that once installed, infestations will not happen, but it does greatly reduce the risk of spreading damaging plant pests.

      Contact Burkholder PHC to Improve Your Landscape’s Plant Health Care Outlook for 2023

      Now you know what to expect with regard to the plant health care outlook for the coming year, and the information could help you recognize issues in your own yard. Burkholder PHC’s team of experienced, qualified arborists will visit your property, conduct a plant health care evaluation, diagnose the problems, and inform you of the recommended treatment options. In addition, we provide a proactive approach, helping encourage and maintain your trees’ health and appearance. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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      Burkholder Plant Health Care Year in Review

      2022 was the second full year in the field for Burkholder Plant Health Care. Having a year of local-property data and experience enabled us to measure our successes and adjust our program to address any shortcomings from 2021. As a certified arborist and the manager of Burkholder Plant Health Care, I am taking this opportunity to share with you our plant health care year in review, featuring the top plant health care issues– pests, diseases, and soil conditions — that we regularly addressed on clients’ properties this year.

      Following is a list and descriptions of the most common plant health care issues that we saw, results of control efforts, and what we believe is in store for 2023.

      6 Pennsylvania Plant Health Care Concerns in 2022

      • Deer

      • Rake in Soil | Plant Health Care by Burkholder Landscape


      • Bagworms
        and Beetles

      • Scale Cottony Maple Scale - Burkholder Plant Health Care- Insects in Landscape Plants


      • square image of boxwood leafminer damage | plant health care year in review | Burkholder PHC


      • Arborvitae

      Deer Damage

      diagram of trunk with deer rub damage and deterrents | plant health care year in review | Burkholder PHC

      Plant damage from deer is a threat to just about every property in this area. In fact, I would confidently say that on unprotected properties, deer inflict more damage (both feeding and antler-rubbing) than any other individual pest: insect, disease, or vertebrate. Damage from deer is exacerbated by the fact that deer target very common feature landscape trees and shrubs and flowering bedding plants. The most effective tool to control deer damage is likely a really good fence. Second is a free-ranging dog, and third is anything else you can throw at them, including deer repellents. Along with multi-component repellents to discourage deer feeding, we have solutions to minimize antler rubbing of trees and to control ticks that are along for the ride. Managing deer is no longer just a winter challenge, and we adjust our program by season and threat level to control deer behavior year-round, with the goal of making our clients’ properties undesirable for deer to visit.

      Learn More About Deer Deterrents

      Soil Health

      Rake in Soil | Burkholder Plant Health Care year in review

      Poor Growing Conditions and Soil Diseases

      In nature, a rhododendron can live for 100 years or more; however, in residential landscapes, rhododendrons and azaleas can be exceptionally difficult to establish given environmental and pest pressures. In 2022, we found a lot of struggling mature plants whose decline could be traced to specific deficiencies in soil condition, planting site, or planting method.

      Effect of Soil pH on Plants

      Soil pH is an excellent example of a specific factor that has an inarguable effect on landscape plants, and for the vast majority of common and preferred landscape plants, the ideal pH range leans toward acidic (5.5-6.5). Many common landscape plants require acidic soil; however, of 192 properties on which we have formally analyzed soil chemistry in foundation beds, landscape beds, and beneath featured trees, 165 properties (86%) have a pH above 6.5, meaning that without amendment and adjustment, only 14% of local properties have the basic soil chemistry that supports health and vigor of preferred plants. In general, mature plants that are struggling are growing in compacted or otherwise unhealthy soil with little or no pore space for oxygen and water penetration or buffering of soil chemistry including pH.

      Plants need healthy, biologically active, well drained, and well aerated soil to thrive. Fortunately, all of these biotic (soil biology) and abiotic (soil composition, planting techniques, and light/water availability) conditions can be corrected for struggling plants. Using specialized equipment, we can manage soil structure and chemistry, root physiology, and environmental stress to restore plant health, vigor, and aesthetic value.

      Soil Diseases

      A majority of landscapes in this area are supported by unhealthy soil. In addition to shortcomings in structure and chemistry, challenged soils are highly prone to harbor soil-borne plant diseases such as phytophthora root rot and black root rot, lethal diseases that colonize and kill the roots of many ornamental plants, starving the plants of water and nutrients. We have a very effective, integrated strategy to manage this disease, beginning with on-site testing and chemical analysis to confirm presence of the diseases, followed by multi-tactic chemical and physical treatment of soil and affected plants. Our team is trained to detect this disease before damage is irreversible, confirm diagnosis, and apply specific treatments to restore the function of the root system.

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      Bagworms and Beetles

      Rake in Soil | Plant Health Care by Burkholder Landscape

      Bagworm and Japanese Beetle

      In late June each year, two insect pests emerge and can devastate certain groups of landscape plants: bagworm and Japanese beetle. Both of these pests can destroy the aesthetics of valuable landscape plants very quickly, and the greatest difficulty with both is the fact that when damage is apparent, it is too late to contain. In other words, management tactics must be in place before the peak population of the pest is actively feeding to ensure an acceptable level of damage control. Our team is trained to identify and treat for bagworm and Japanese beetle before damage is apparent, and our IPM program (Integrated Pest Management program) is structured to facilitate management of annual pests like bagworm and Japanese beetle before they become a problem.

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      Scale Insects

      Scale Cottony Maple Scale - Burkholder Plant Health Care- Insects in Landscape Plants

      Scale insects continue to be the most prolific group of insects feeding on and damaging local landscape plants. Individuals of this diverse group of insects attach to various plant parts and feed on the vascular system of the plant, capturing and digesting nutrients as sap moves between the leaves and roots. Scale insects can build to astounding numbers on some plants. Of this group, the most important pests are currently

      • White peach/prunicola scale
      • Japanese maple scale
      • Cottony camellia (taxus) scale

      However, scale insects are affecting more plant species every year, and a majority of landscape plant species have one or more species of scale insects that feed on them and can cause significant damage. In fact, last year we were able to identify the first infestation of crape myrtle bark scale in the state of Pennsylvania and have since identified and treated this pest on dozens of properties. Our IPM program provides each of our clients’ properties with professional evaluations to determine throughout the year if plants are currently infested with or at risk of infestation with insidious scale insects, allowing treatment and control before the plants are damaged beyond repair.

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      Boxwood Leafminer

      boxwood leafminer damage | plant health care year in review | Burkholder PHC

      Leafminer is the most destructive insect pest of boxwood. These are fly larvae and they feed between layers of leaves, creating patchy discoloration on the tops of the leaves and light-colored blisters on the lower surface. Leaves are eventually killed by the feeding of the larvae and turn brown, destroying the aesthetics of the plants. Proactive treatment of boxwood leafminer is critical to bringing this pest under control and protecting boxwoods, which are often the most highly featured and valuable plant installations on residential properties. Management of boxwood leafminer requires accurate diagnosis and precise timing of treatment to coincide with vulnerable growth stages of the insect, without collateral damage to beneficial insects such as honeybees and other pollinators. This season, we worked on 97 properties with featured boxwoods (10+ plants), and boxwood leafminer was detected on 80% of these properties (78 of 97).

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      Arborvitae Borers

      Scale Cottony Maple Scale - Burkholder Plant Health Care- Insects in Landscape Plants

      Arborvitae (especially Green Giant and Emerald Green) are among the most common landscape trees in this area. Historically, these have also been among the most durable and reliable landscape plants, fast-growing, consistent shape and size, and relatively insect and disease resistant. From our experience, there are only four common problems with arborvitae in general: deer browse, bagworm, phytophthora root rot, and wind/snow/ice damage. In 2021, we started to see damaged arborvitae in nurseries: trees with individual flagging limbs: dull green-gray branches that turn brown and shed their foliage. On trunks and limbs of these damaged trees, we found a particular species of bark beetle (shothole borer)—tiny beetles whose larvae tunnel just beneath the bark and can kill branches. When there are enough beetles in a tree, they can kill large sections, eventually leading to tree death. In 2022, we observed much more damage from this pest particularly in newly installed trees, and further examination revealed that it is most likely that trees were being infested and damaged immediately after planting. Trees stressed by transplanting conditions produce ethanol, and beetles in surrounding woods are attracted to the odor of these trees, quickly colonizing and damaging branches in as little as 6 weeks after planting. Our program has adapted to manage this risk, preventatively treating transplanted arborvitae after installation, monitoring for early indications of infestation, and nurturing new trees to full health and vigor to reduce likelihood of damage using the trees’ own defensive mechanisms.

      Learn More About Arborvitae Issues

      Contact Burkholder PHC for Exceptional Treatment of Plant Care Issues

      Burkholder PHC has a team of experienced, qualified arborists who will visit your property, conduct a plant health care evaluation, diagnose the problems, and inform you of the recommended treatment options. In addition, we provide a proactive approach, helping encourage and maintain your trees’ health and appearance. 

      If you are a current or past client of Burkholder Plant Health Care, thank you for trusting us with the care of the structure and biology of your landscape plants. If you have not brought our services onto your property and are interested in an assessment of the condition of your landscape plants, just let me know ( All of our initial evaluations, sampling, and diagnostics are free for current or past clients of Burkholder Brothers. For more information about the Burkholder Plant Health Care Year in Review, give us a call.

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