Identification of Flying Insects on Trees

Written by erin ringwald
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Identification of Flying Insects on Trees
Bees are one type of flying insect you may find on a tree. (bee image by Stefano Tiraboschi from

The number of flying insects you encounter in your yard varies depending on where you live and time of year. Seeing an unidentified flying insect is nerve-racking, because you don't know if the insect is harmful to you or your trees. However, knowing a few of the most common insects will help you identify what is flying around you and what treatment measures are necessary.

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Safe for Trees and People

Easily recognisable, ladybug beetles are most commonly identified as red with black spots. However, they come in yellow, orange, green, pink and white. No larger than 1/4 inch in size, ladybirds pose no threat to you or your trees. In fact, they help by eating smaller insects that may pose a threat, such as aphids.

Another recognisable insect is the butterfly, which comes in a number of colours and sizes. The most easily recognisable butterfly is the monarch. Other common yard butterflies include the brown argus, painted lady and the brimstone. With their brightly coloured, delicate wings, these insects pose no risk to trees or people.

Dangerous for Trees

Leafhoppers are small winged insects are approximately 1/5 inch in size. They have small triangular-shaped wings and appear to hop or fly very short distances. One common type of leafhopper, the rose leafhopper, causes damage as it eats the leaves of different trees, such as apple trees. These insects also excrete honeydew on the leaves and fruits of the tree, which leaves black spots.

The elm bark beetles are small copper-coloured beetles that eat the bark of elm trees. They carry a fungus that damages the elms. As they eat it, the limbs die. The more branches that are damaged, the harder it is on the health of the tree. A common sign of an infestation is multiple holes all over the tree.

Dangerous for Humans

Attracted to moisture, adult mosquitoes look for still water to lay their eggs. Although the female adult mosquito needs a blood meal to lay her eggs, the male is not a blood drinker. The range in size from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in size, with the males being smaller than the females. Although they are not a concern to the health of your trees, mosquitoes pose a serious concern for you, your family and pets. They carry diseases like the West Nile Virus.

Good for Trees

Easily identifiable by their yellow and black fuzzy bodies, bumblebees are one of a number of types of bees. They pose no danger to trees. In fact, they help pollinate all kinds of plants. Although they are generally peaceful insects, if they feel threatened or worry that their home is in jeopardy, they do sting. Their stings are painful and could be a serious health concern if you have a bee allergy.

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