Don Davis: With hotter temperatures come extra bugs | Dwelling & Backyard

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I have a couple of photos. One shows where I cut the branch last autumn and what the trunk looks like. The other is a close-up of the other branches. I’m afraid I’ll have to remove this tree soon, but would like an expert opinion. Can this wood be burned or can the smoke spread, whatever is causing the problem?

A. In your pictures you can see a young apple tree with cracked, kinking and dead bark on the trunk and branches. These symptoms always indicate a serious problem and could have been caused by a fungal disease such as cancer.

You may notice insects of various kinds feeding on wood under the dying bark, and this is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. You can burn the remains of the tree without spreading nuisance diseases, as any pathogens present in the tree will be eliminated by the intense heat of a fire.

Fruit tree spray helps fight apple scab, Japanese beetles, and certain other pests and diseases, but not cancer. Also, your apple tree seems too far away for a spray treatment. It looks ready to be removed.

Question: F. Do you have a compost heap?

A. My plant waste is either dumped on a brush, compost pile, or mixed into the ground from a tiller.