Go, Bug, Go: How to Apply Dormant Oils to Protect Trees From Parasitic Insects

Would you like beautiful trees all year round? Do you want to get rid of mites, scales and other insect pests? You can tell bugs to take a hike by using dormant oils, and protect those trees you love so dearly.

What Is Dormant Oil?

Dormant oil is usually fabricated from petroleum products although according to the University of Illinois Extension cottonseed oil is also sometimes used. The name comes from the fact that you are supposed to apply it while trees are dormant, though you should not confuse this with applying it in the depths of a cold snap as you must have temperatures above freezing for at least 24 hours to apply it. Otherwise, the oil can damage tree bark. Dormant oil is especially effective in orchards.

How Does It Control Insects?

Dormant oils typically kill pests by using oil to block the apertures through which they breathe, or by disrupting their metabolisms. It is especially effective during times when trees are dormant because insects are in egg or larval form and are particularly susceptible, though it is also effective against adult insects. Best of all, it doesn’t kill beneficial insects or harm birds, both of which can help contribute to natural pest control on your trees. Plus, the insect pests you’re targeting won’t build up a chemical resistance to these oils, so they’re considered very safe for continued use.

How Do You Apply It?

Typically, you apply dormant oil in the winter months (though you can use it at diluted rates in summer as well) from November through March. Use it after leaves have fallen and before trees leaf out again. Spray evenly on tree surfaces, ideally on a sunny, windless day when temperatures are expected to rise as the day goes on.

Need a little help? Premier Tree Solutions specializes in tree care in Atlanta, Georgia, and in the removal of dead, dying or infested tree limbs and specimens. We specialize in helping homeowners keep their trees and shrubs as healthy as they can possibly be. We also help with regular trimming and pruning, branch removal, storm cleanup, Bobcat work, stump grinding and debris removal. If you’d like help caring for your property, please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 404-252-6448.