Are you concerned that a tree on your property could be posing a danger to your family? Even trees that appear healthy could be a problem. The following guide can help you determine if you should be concerned, as well as provide guidance on what to do.
There are mushrooms growing on the tree
Mushrooms or fungus, like shelf fungus, growing along the trunk or base of the tree could indicate heart rot or a fungal infection of the roots. Heart rot kills a tree from the inside out, weakening it until it falls. A tree may look otherwise healthy even though it is now nearly hollow inside. Fungal root issues cause the roots to die, which also increases falling danger. If you spot mushrooms or fungus, call in an arborist to get a diagnosis. Some fungal issues can be cured, but others like heart rot will mean the tree must be removed. Other fungal issues to watch for include mildew growing on leaf surfaces, or blackened, slimy leaves.
The canopy has several dead branches
It's natural for branches to eventually die, so this isn't necessarily a reason to remove the tree. The problem is when these branches are ignored until they fall on their own, which can cause major damage. Having the tree pruned yearly to remove any dead wood is key. The arborist will also cut out other living but weak branches, like those that rub together or those attached to the trunk at such an angle that they are more prone to breakage. Spring is typically a good time to schedule this service, since it is simple to see which branches didn't survive winter or were badly damaged.
There is increased insect activity on the tree
Some insect activity is normal, but if you notice a lot of insects, particularly of the same variety, you may have an infestation. Even insects like ants can indicate a problem, since they are often drawn to other, more damaging insects, like aphids, as a food source. You will need to have the insects identified to see if they are causing a problem or if they are an indication of a problem. In most cases, the insects can be taken care of with a pesticide and the tree will recover, unless the insects are a side effect of a more deadly disease.
For more help, contact an arborist in your area.