The Q&A Archives: Maple Tree Losing Leaves

Question: We have a fully matured Maple tree that leafed out this spring and all of a sudden is losing green leaves. Some of the leaves have little brown spikey (worm-looking) things that appear to be growing out of the leaves. These things do not appear to be living pests.

Answer: It sounds like your tree has an infestation of a gall forming insect. The structures you see are grown by the plant in response to the insect's activity. Inside are the young insects which develop into adult and then emerge from the structures.

Gall insects are seldom a major concern. They don't usually warrant spraying. Occasional outbreaks are later brought into check by their natural enemies. The tree should releaf without any long term, detrimental effect.

It is possible that another stress such as root injury from construction or herbicide injury from lawn weed control is involved in the problem. However, based on your description, it is unlikely. If your tree is losing lots of leaves, consult with an arborist. If it's just a few leaves, I wouldn't worry.

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