If you're seeing growths on the branches of your oak tree, the problem could be caused by wasps. Wasps can cause gouty oak gall. The gall is the abnormal growth of the wood on small branches that looks like balls. A similar condition is horned oak gall, but it looks like spheres with horns sticking out. Here's a look at what causes gouty oak gall, how the tree is affected, and how a tree care service might treat the problem.
Wasps Trigger The Growth
Wasps secrete a substance that causes the wood to start growing abnormally. A ball is formed that the wasps then use to support their life cycles. Only certain types of wasps can cause this problem, and they have specific types of oak trees they like best. There may only be a few galls on the tree, but it's possible for a wasp problem to be severe enough to cover a tree with galls.
Gouty Oak Gall Can Kill Trees
If an infestation is minor, only a few branches may be killed. If the problem is widespread in the tree, the health of the tree could be in danger. Eventually, the tree could get sick and die. This happens because the galls change the way nutrients move through the tree, so the tree becomes sick and weak.
How A Tree Care Service Can Help
When an infestation is minor, the tree care service may focus on pruning the affected branches from the tree. They may also advise you to pick up twigs in your yard that have galls and get rid of them. The tree care service may attend to the health of the tree by providing extra nutrients and water so the tree is strong enough to fight damage caused by the wasps.
A more serious wasp problem may require the use of long-acting insecticides that the tree soaks up in the woody parts of the tree and the leaves. The insecticide kills and repels wasps so they won't lay eggs on the leaves and start their life cycles all over.
If a bad infestation has gone on for a long time and the health of the tree is affected, the tree care service may need to remove the tree so your property isn't in danger of falling during a storm.
Since gouty oak gall has the potential to be serious, call an arborist for advice when you see wood balls growing on your tree. When caught early, simple pruning may be the only treatment needed.