The top tree diseases in the midwestern United States are caused by a range of factors, most notably insects, fungi, bacteria, viruses and by environmental stress such as temperature extremes, drought, and air pollution. Diseases are often difficult to diagnose since there are multiple causes that are able to produce identical or similar symptoms.

Developing an effective treatment program requires accurate diagnosis.

tree fungus disease
tree fungus disease

This list is a ranking of the top tree diseases in the midwestern United States based on the number of occurrences and their potential to damage trees.

Top Tree Diseases that Threaten Plants in the Midwestern United States:


Tree Pests

There are over one hundred different insect species in the Midwest that have the ability to damage your trees, bushes, and other plants. One very important thing to note is that not all insects on trees and shrubs are damaging. There are some species that are beneficial, helping pollinate flowers, or they may help reduce the population of the insects that cause damage to plants by predatory or parasitic behavior.  Progressive Tree Services is trained to correctly identify these beneficial insects and mites and is able to properly devise effective programs and methods that protect landscape plants and trees from serious damage while conserving beneficial organisms.

Top Insects that Threaten Plants in the Midwestern United States:

Emerald ash borer


It is a green beetle that is an invasive species. An emerald ash borer infestation is highly destructive to ash trees


A defoliating caterpillar, the bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis, is a native insect that thrives on the leaves of many coniferous and deciduous trees East of the Rocky Mountains.

Gypsy moth

Over 500 species of trees, shrubs, and plants are attacked by its larvae, which consumes their leaves. The gypsy moth is one of the most destructive pests of hardwood trees in the United States.

Bronze Birch Borer

Since the end of the 1800s, the Bronze Birch Borer has been causing significant losses to American Birch trees. This native pest attacks all native and nonnative birch species, but the damage can vary. Birch trees weakened or stressed by factors such as drought, compaction of soil, root injury, other insect attack, and old age are the most attractive hosts for the Bronze Birch Borer.


It is a moth whose larvae feed on various deciduous trees and shrubs.

Once the eggs hatch, many inch-long worms appear, capable of defoliating and killing a tree.

Bark beetles

They are little black beetles that often attack trees that are already weakened by disease, drought, smog, conspecific beetles or physical damage

Tent caterpillars

They attack several kinds of broad-leaf trees and shrubs and produce unsightly webs, or tents, and defoliate trees, stunting their growth and making them less vigorous.

Japanese Beetle

The Japanese beetle is not host-specific; they can feed on hundreds of species of trees. These include Japanese maple, sycamore trees, black walnut, horse chestnut, plum, Norway maple, and linden, just to name a few. 

Flat-headed borers

Including bronze birch borer, and two-lined chestnut borer – larvae hatch and then chew their way into the bark and start feeding


A type of beetle that is damaging to crops by laying larvae in the crop that then eat into the crop.

Spider mites

They live on the undersides of leaves of plants, where they may spin protective silk webs, and they cause damage by puncturing the plant cells to feed. The symptoms of this disease include yellow foliage and stippling damage that can be seen during most of the growing season, as well as leaf drop and a greyish-looking foliage.


Also known as plant lice, are small sap-sucking insects and are among the most destructive insect pests

A professional tree trimming service can help you save an infected tree by removing parts of the tree while preserving the rest.

For more information, you can take a look at the most common tree diseases in the Chicago area or at the newest service we offer, organic mosquito control.

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