Common Tree and Shrub Insects in Michigan

Boring Insects

Emerald Ash Borer Larva
Emerald Ash Borer Shown on a Penny for Size

Emerald Ash Borer

The Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has killed millions of ash trees since its discovery in southeastern Michigan in 2002. EAB larvae feed on phloem under bark causing disruption of water and nutrient flow, killing trees. Adults feed on leaves.

Types of Flat Headed Borers for Size with and Emerald Ash Borer
Flat Headed Borer Damage picture

Flat Headed Borers

Several borers are present in our area. They are most bothersome on trees in poor or declining health. These insects easily transmit diseases when tunneling. Common trees attacked include ash, `lilac, dogwood and fruit trees.


Prevention, early detection and systemic trunk injections are your best protection.

Piercing-Sucking Insects

Leafhoppers on leaf
Leafhoppers damage


Leafhoppers are very common insects. They usually feed on the underside of leaves by piercing the leaf and sucking the sap. Leafhoppers may run sideways or hop away when approached. Some Leafhoppers transmit viral diseases which can be damaging. Feeding results in a stippled appearance on the leaf.

Hard and Soft Scale eggs
Hard and Soft Scale on branch

Hard and Soft Scales

Scale insects are common pests of many trees and shrubs. Some produce honeydew, a sweet, sticky substance. Honeydew attracts unsightly Black Sooty Mold. The insects are protected under their shell where they pierce the twig and suck sap. Large numbers can reduce plant vigor.

Spider Mites close up

Spider Mites

These tiny arachnids cause damage by feeding on foliage and sucking out necessary nutrients. They can also carry dangerous diseases. Small webs are present between leaves and needles.


Because all life stages are present throughout the growing season multiple foliar applications throughout the growing season may be prudent.

Chewing Insects

Caterpillars Eating Leaves
Caterpillars Damage


A broad range of caterpillars (larvae of moths and butterflies) feed on the leaves of trees resulting in jagged holes or edges of leaves. In high populations, they can completely defoliate trees causing lasting damage. Caterpillars may make outdoor activities unpleasant due to the many crawlers on trees that are shedding and dropping excrement to the ground.

Japanese Beetles Damage

Japanese beetles

The Japanese beetle has a voracious appetite that makes it especially destructive. The pest dines on the soft tissues between leaf veins, leaving leaves skeletonized. The adult beetle feeds on about 300 species of plants including roses, shrubs and ornamental trees. They begin eating at the top of plants and work their way down.


Prevention, early detection and well timed foliar sprays or systematic soil treatments are your best protection.

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