Diseases & Pests

Common Pests That Plague Your Trees in the Winter

Most insects and pests hide away for the winter months, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone.  In fact, hiding within trees is one of the most common survival tactics these pests have. They do this to survive, but they can also cause serious harm to your trees and plants if you allow them to nest unchallenged. Here are a few examples of the common pests your trees might face this winter.

Red Spider Mites

One insect you have to worry about in winter are red spider mites. They can attack all sorts of plants but they are generally associated with apple trees. These little pests are very active in the spring and fall. In winter, they hide near the tree trunks in little crevices where they can stay as warm as possible until the temperature returns to normal.

When it comes to these pests, you could have an infestation brewing without even knowing. They spin webbing like normal spiders on plants so take a close look if you’re seeing that sort of thing. They’re extremely small so they might only look like a small red dusting on a plant.

They repopulate very quickly which can make them difficult to get rid of in other seasons. In the winter, however, a pest specialist should have no troubles getting rid of them in the colder weather.

Codling Moth Grubs

Have you ever seen one of those pictures of a worm crawling around an apple? These moth grubs do the exact same thing. They like to be around fruit-bearing trees and even some that produce nuts. In winter, they’ll spend the colder months in the crevices of a tree waiting for spring.

They’ll reveal themselves in the spring right as fruit is beginning to grow. It will usually take a professional to find them in the winter, however. You’ll want to communicate that to your pest specialist before flowers start to bloom.


Aphids aren’t the most threatening-looking insects in the world. What’s scary about them, however, is their numbers. Over 4,000 species of aphids are known across the world and they can quickly overwhelm a plant and cause it to yellow or stop growing entirely. In fall, they lay eggs in trees that will remain dormant for the winter months.

How to Treat these Pests

Luckily, the winter’s a great time to treat for these sorts of pests; they next in the colder months and prepare to hit the ground running in the spring. Here’s a handy guide to keep your trees healthy:

  • Weed and Prune in the Fall – Keep things neat and tidy around your trees before the winter sets in. It’ll make it easier to spot nesting insects or other infestations beforehand.
  • Spray your trees with a Winter Wash – There are organic, oil-based washing sprays that you can apply to your tree without any fear for its safety. They won’t harm pets or children, either. You can also go with a traditional insecticide, but some of them can potentially harm your trees as well.
  • Use Glue Bands – It’s exactly how it sounds: A band of glue around the trunk of a tree. It prevents insects from crawling up your trees to nest.
  • Call a Specialist – If you’re not the type to get your hands messy around bugs, feel free to skip to a specialist who’s experienced in this sort of work.

Alex Briggs is a contributing author for Minnesota Tree Surgeons.

Photo Credits:

  • Spider mites (Tetranychus sp.) – David Gent, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
  • Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) – Phil Sloderbeck, Kansas State University, Bugwood.org
  • Aphid (Diuraphis frequens) – Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org

One thought on “Common Pests That Plague Your Trees in the Winter

  • Tom Gray

    Great article. I’m hoping that your suggesting work for our large tree in our backyard. If not, I’m afraid we will have to do a tree removal this spring.


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