Wyoming Arborists Say Tree Vaxing Can Be A Good Idea, But It Depends

Many tree services call customers this time of year to recommend they get injections to protect against pests. The treatments can be expensive, and some wonder if they’re really necessary. Arborists say it depends.

April 16, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

As trees begin to leaf, tree service companies call customers to recommend they get injections in their trees to protect against pests. Failing to do so, some claim, risks losing whole trees. 

Caleb Russell, sales representative for Tiger Tree in Laramie, told Cowboy State Daily the triage injections are done every other year and cost about $160, depending on the diameter of the trunk. 

“That’s $80 a year for protecting your tree and making sure it’s safe,” Russell said. 

Of course, that’s per tree, so a yard full of them can get expensive. 

Is it worth the price or is tree vaxing a scam to sell tree services?

Experts say the injections could be a good idea, but it depends. 

Some, But Not All 

Russell said the main pests injections protect against are the ips beetle and emerald ash borers.

The borers haven’t been seen in Wyoming but are common in northern Colorado, he said. The ips beetle is a type of bark pest that’s very common in Wyoming. 

“It just completely decimates pine trees and spruce trees,” Russell said. 

Harrison Brookes, forest health specialist with the Wyoming State Forestry Division, told Cowboy State Daily the question of the value of these treatments doesn’t have a straightforward answer. 

“They’re a viable method for treating some pests, but not all pests, unfortunately. So, depending on what the issue is with the tree, it may or may not produce the results you’re looking for,” Brookes said. 

Difficult Situation

Brookes said some of pests in Wyoming that attack trees can be very aggressive. 

“So if you’re in an area that is experiencing one type of pest and it hasn’t affected your trees yet, the injectables kind of makes more sense,” Brookes said. 

Whether or not that should be done as a preventative or as the tree shows symptoms of an infestation isn’t as clear. 

“If you see symptoms and you catch it early, you can do the injectables and save the tree with minimal lasting damage. In others, it’d be too late. So, it’s kind of a difficult situation,” Brookes said.

He said when it comes to the ips beetle, injecting a tree when symptoms appear might not work. The literature is “kind of mixed” in terms of how well it protects trees. 

The most effective preventative method is spraying, but that has to be done before the ips beetles are flying in the area. 

Applying the spray is not easy work, though. The entire top of the tree has to be coated with the insecticide. 

Russell said it’s very difficult to do in residential neighborhoods, especially in southern Wyoming where there’s a lot of wind. The insecticide tends to drift to trees in neighbors’ yards.

Emerald Ash Borer

Scott Schell, University of Wyoming extension entomology specialist, said that in his opinion, it’s probably too early to be doing preventative treatments for emerald ash borer. 

“Certainly, there is some risk. But generally, as long as people are aware of it and keep an eye on the health of their ash trees, they will probably have fair warning before it’s a widespread issue,” Schell said, adding that it’s a big problem in Colorado. 

Brookes said that injections have been shown to be effective against the borer. 

“If you do get emerald ash borer and confirm it early, you can start injections with minimal long-term consequences,” Brookes said.

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