The fungus among us!

Hello all!

All too soon, summer is fading away and we are looking forward to our Fall Plant Healthcare season. With it, we are getting report of leaves turning yellow, and/or brown, curling of leaves, as well as early leaf drop in many different species - some of which are not typically prone to fungal issues. Weather factors are mostly responsible; this Spring, and last, we experienced immense amounts of rainfall over prolonged periods, followed by long stretches of drought and increasing summer temperatures. There is however something you can do to help your trees during this stressful time:


Be sure to water any affected trees once to twice weekly - you can adjust this based on any rainfall we get. We recommend the use of a soaker hose, loosely wrapped around the base of the tree. Watering is not an exact science - please use your best judgement as to the amount. It is important to note that you should be watering the soil at the base of the tree, and not the tree itself.

Again, this is atypical of many of the species we are seeing this in, most notably, cherries and maples. We have found Norway maples have been particularly affected. No treatment is necessary, though you’ll want to be sure to clean up the dropped leaves.

Other species however, would benefit from an application of organic copper fungicide. Such species would include: dogwoods, fruit trees (apples, peaches, pears, crabapples, etc), a wide variety of ornamentals, and even cypresses. Should you have any concerns for your trees, please feel free to shoot an email my way to and I would be happy to address them with you. 

Until next time!


 maple leaves exhibiting black tar fungus

maple leaves exhibiting black tar fungus

Start of the Season Plant Healthcare Update

I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are very excited that Spring finally seems to be making its presence known. While we’ve had a couple of beautiful days, Winter is still trying to make its last stand. In the field, we have seen bud break on fruit trees occur as early as Monday, 4/2, but the very next day, we had snow on our hands. The next, rain, and the next, below freezing temperatures to start the day. These type of ups and downs in the weather during the first couple weeks of April make timing particularly difficult. Our friends at the URI Cooperative Extension monitoring the caterpillar populations have just reported that the majority of winter moth eggs remain orange. As they turn blue, they will be closer to hatching. We are expecting this to occur over the next week or two - but this is subject to the weather conditions we encounter. As the temperatures rise to our benefit, we will be keeping our fingers crossed that April showers don’t impede our efforts to get out and spray post-hatch. 

While we wait on the winter moth eggs to hatch, we will be addressing our first application for our mosquito and tick treatment customers. Ticks have quickly become active, and it will only be a matter of time before mosquitoes make their return as well.  With this in mind, always remember to eliminate any unnecessary standing water, stay up to date on pet’s flea and tick preventative, and to thoroughly check yourself, children, and pets after any time spent outdoors. This year we will also be adding organic Bti pellets to standing water that cannot be changed. These pellets are effective in killing mosquito larvae, but are completely harmless to bees, beneficial insects, pets, and wildlife.

Rain, as always, remains an important factor in all of the treatments we perform. The vast amount of rain we received last year caused widespread occurrences of fungal issues in several typically unaffected species, such as maples and cherries. While we do not expect this situation to continue, we ask that you monitor all trees for any signs of fungal damage. Such indicators include the spotting of leaves (often times black), browning and curling of leaves, as well as early leaf drop. We often get calls from clients who mistake early leaf drop for squirrel damage, so it is important to look at the condition of the leaves that have fallen.

For those occasions where rain poses an issues, we will be engaging in our fertilization program - with the exception of foliar applications.

That’s all for now - stay tuned for more updates!

~ Stephanie 

Plant Health Care - Spring Preview

While the Groundhog may have predicted 6 more weeks of winter, these 60 degree temperatures in February sure are fooling us. In that spirit, we want to offer you a preview of what you may expect this Spring.

Winter and Gypsy Moth

One of the biggest concerns on our radar are the populations of winter and gypsy moth. While winter moth has traditionally been more of a culprit over the last decade, we are seeing a bit of a downturn in their population. Though winter moth may be waning, the resurgence of gypsy moth has shifted the threat. We monitor pest populations via URI’s Cooperative Extension, and will time our treatment based upon which pest is presenting an issue. Please do not be concerned if your previous treatment was specific to either pest; as the threat evolves, so will your treatment. It is important to note that winter moth appear earlier in the season than gypsy moth, and more than one treatment may be necessary. One of the greatest resources that we have is feedback from our clients. If you notice particularly high activity, I would encourage you to send an email tip to

Fungal issues

We had a very wet Spring last year, and with it came widespread fungal activity. Many typically unaffected trees showed evidence of fungus (most notably maples). We do not expect them to continue to have issues this season, but ultimately it comes down to the amount of rain we get. Some species of trees are more susceptible to fungal issues, including (but not limited to): dogwoods, crabapples, and a wide variety of ornamentals including apples, pears, and peaches. Evidence of fungal issues include leaf spotting, darkening and/or curling of leaves, as well as premature leaf drop. If you have any trees you are concerned about, please feel free to contact us for a consultation today.

Wooly adelgid

We are happy to now offer multiple treatment options for wooly adelgid. One option is a spray treatment using horticultural oil which provides 1 year of protection. We also have a trunk spray option using Xytect insecticide, which provides up to 3 years of protection. Prices are based upon product and volume, so please note that the cost of treatment varies between products. The treatment route that is best for you is dependent on your individual situation, so please feel free to contact us to discuss.

Tick & Mosquito

Ticks & mosquitoes present a health risk to humans and pets alike. With that in mind, at TF Morra we take a multi-phase approach to reducing this threat. We offer a set of 3 treatments (occuring between Spring and Fall) using a proprietary blend of essential plant oils (including Rosemary, Peppermint, and Geranium) to control these populations. It is important to note that mosquitoes life cycle is quite rapid, so it is important to take additional steps to curb their prevalence. One of the best ways to do this is to eliminate any standing water. If you have any questions about how to best protect your time outside this summer, please request a quote today.


Other available treatments

In addition to the aforementioned services we provide, we are also happy to offer a variety of treatments including fertilization, air spade excavation, treatment of borers and cankers, growth regulator, and more. It is our mission to do all we can to be good stewards of the environment, and tailor our approach based on that goal. We are proud to offer sustainable and safe options to promote the preservation of our trees and the health of our ecosystem - Call us for a consultation today!

FAQ - Winter & Gypsy Moth


    As we look forward towards Spring, the topic on the town quickly shifts focus towards making sure our trees are protected against the well known winter and gypsy moth that have become synonymous with Springtime in New England. It is around this time that I start to receive many questions on the matter, and as such I would like to share some information that may answer many of the questions you may have.

Q: What is the difference between winter moth and gypsy moth?

A: Winter and gypsy moth caterpillars differ in several ways, most notably in timing, size and appearance. Winter moths are small, green caterpillars that emerge earlier in the Spring. Gypsy moths are larger, fuzzy caterpillars that are black and often striped. They also appear later in the season. 

Q: When is the ideal time to treat my trees?

A: Treatment of winter and gypsy moth is entirely subject to factors under Mother Nature's Control. Generally speaking, the typical treatment period can begin as early as late April, through as late as mid June. Factors that impact timing of treatment include the general weather, rain, temperature, amount and direction of wind, as well as how far the trees have leafed out. Not all areas in our state will leaf out simultaneously; Similarly, not all trees leaf out at the same time. We can typically expect the coastal areas, as well as areas of Western Rhode Island to leaf out a little later than more central areas in the state. In addition, properties that are known to have issues with both species of moths may require a second application.


Q: My tree has not yet been sprayed, and it looks like there is already damage. Is it too late?

A: This may be one of the most common concerns that we hear. It is important to note that when your trees first begin to leaf out, you may see some very preliminary caterpillar damage. This feeding occurs within the buds by premature caterpillars. During this time, the caterpillars cannot be reached by treatment sprays. As such, we ask that you keep this in mind before assuming that it is an emergency. If you feel as though you are seeing extensive damage, certainly let us know, however it is unlikely during the beginning of the bloom.


Q: Will I have an appointment?

A: No. Due to how fluid and unpredicatable the Spring time weather is, we cannot possibly schedule our sprayings. Many decisions need to be made in field based upon the current conditions. I divide our winter moth clientele into geographical areas, and will notify the clients in each area of a general idea of when they may be able to expect treatment to occur. Again, these time frames are fluid and not to be relied upon as any hard date.


Q: Are the products being used safe?

A: Yes - TF Morra Tree Care prides itself on upholding standards that promote the overall wellfare of our ecosystem. As such, we use products that adhere to these standards. Should you have any questions regarding our products, please feel free to let me know. Tom or I would be happy to answer them and provide you with literature about them.


Q: Do all of my trees need to be sprayed?

A: Not necessarily. We typically address the species that are hosts of winter and gypsy moth caterpillars, and occasionally others they may turn to. 


Q: What if it rains soon after my property has been treated?

A: Generally this in not an issue. The products have a surfactant property and are locally systemic - absorbing within 30 - 60 minutes of application.


Q: Do I need to avoid my yard after the trees have been sprayed?

A: You may notice an aroma to the spray, but you certainly do not need to avoid your yard. For that day, I would just not allow children or pets to touch or lick the trees - they probably won't taste too good! 


Q: How can I make sure that my property will be treated next year as well?

A: Due to the fact that winter and gypsy moth are an annual issue, as well as the popularity of the program, if you have been treated before, you are automatically enrolled in treatment each year. We operate this program on an opt-out basis; we will continue to treat until you tell us not to. This offers our clients the protection of knowing that the property will be accounted for when we plan to spray each season.


Planning for winter and gypsy moth treatment occurs long before they actually appear. You do not want to wait until you see caterpillars to act - call us for a quote today!


Stephanie Smolenski



Protecting evergreens against winter injury... Again!

Once again, we've had extreme weather that has had adverse effects on the landscape. Last winter was way above average temperature-wise, and we had a couple seriously hard frosts in February and again in April. Warm winter temperatures allow evergreen trees to continue to transpire, using up all of the available moisture in the soil and root system. Then when the temperature drops, the plants don't have enough moisture in their foliage to withstand the hard frost. They will also sometimes just automatically shed some of their foliage as a reaction to inadequate soil moisture.

Compound that with the intense heat and prolonged drought conditions that we had this summer, and the results are stressful and damaging. The added stress of these conditions can also make plants more susceptible to other insect and disease problems. We received dozens if not scores of calls about browning foliage and interior shedding of leaves or needles this year, and most of the time, this was the issue.

In addition to watering your trees and shrubs well in the fall, one step that can be taken is spray treatment with anti-transpirant, also called anti-desiccant. The products we use (Nu-Arbor, Vapor Guard and others) create a waxy coating that effectively prevent loss of moisture from leaves and needles.

Contact us today for an assessment or to schedule your application. We apply anti-transpirant right through December, or as long as temps are above 40F.  Treatment will provide protection all winter long!

Warm winter, wild and wacky spring!

As we move from a record setting warm winter into a tumultuous spring, there a lots of curveballs happening in nature right now! A couple to focus on for your landscape are winter injury to sensitive evergreens and how the weather has affected tree and landscape pests. The warm temps over the winter kept many evergreen plants moving water when that process should have been slowed or even stopped at times. The result is excessive transpiration leading to desiccation (drying out), and this leads to winter injury. Bamboo and boxwood are two that took it the worst. Be sure to water these plants, and an organic fertilizer is also not a bad idea!

The warm winter has mixed effects on tree and landscape pests, but many such as hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) and wood/deer ticks tend to thrive without the harder frosts. As of today, most winter moth larvae have hatched, but yesterday's storm and tonight's record low temps will kill any that have not made it into open buds, so that's great news! The bad news is that for fruit trees, tonight's record lows may kill any opened flower buds which could hurt fruit production. We will be starting tick control, soil injections for winter moth and fertilization in the next few days, and spraying should begin next week. Check back for updates as the season progresses!

Protecting your evergreens against winter injury

With all of the radical changes in weather the last few years, evergreen trees and shrubs have had to withstand many difficult conditions, and the problems have compounded. Summer heat and drought, and fluctuating winter air temperatures with solidly frozen soil have led to much higher than normal rates of winter injury and undue stress on evergreens. you may have noticed excessive needle drop and browning in needle leaved evergreens, and yellowing and dieback in broadleaf evergreens.

In addition to watering your trees and shrubs well in the fall, one step that can be taken is spray treatment with anti-transpirant, also called anti-desiccant. The products we use (Nu-Arbor, Vapor Guard and others) create a waxy coating that effectively prevents loss of moisture from leaves and needles. This happens when soil is frozen, preventing movement of water, but air temperatures fluctuate, allowing valuable moisture to be released.

Contact us today for an assessment or to schedule your application. We apply anti-transpirant right through December, as long as temps are above 40F.  Treatment will provide protection all winter long!

Quick- get the spray! It's Winter Moth!

Here in the great state of Rhode Island, an invasive species from Europe known as Operophtera brumata, or Winter Moth, likely laid waste to the leaves of one or more trees on your property this past spring/summer.

Winter Moth caterpillars are the culprits. Tiny and green, they emerge from their eggs in the bark of trees in springtime, cast out thin strands of silk and swing up in the canopy or drop onto shrubs to eat, eat, EAT.  Maple, oak, ash, crabapple, among others are common RI host species. Many trees can recover and put out a second leaf, but too many years of Winter Moth and your property will be visibly compromised. The feast ends in the summer, they drop to the soil to pupate.

Luckily, they can be controlled with one of two different products. Spinosad is an organic product derived from a unique form of bacteria that affects the nervous system of target insects, and has virtually no non-target effects. We also use Acelepryn, which is a super low toxicity insecticide--which we and the honeybees both like! 

In the next two months, we will see the adult moths emerge- hence the name Winter Moth. This is a great time for us to come by, give you a quote, and get you on the Winter Moth Spray list for Spring 2016. 

Contact us today!

Learn more about Winter Moth