Something’s Eating the Oak Tree

My folks have a cute little Bur Oak tree they planted last year. Maybe 8 feet tall at this point.

The past few weeks something has been eating away at the leaves — drastically. Not much photosynthesizing area left at this point, and the tree has been trying to compensate by sending out new leaf buds.

bur oak with eaten leaves

Taking a close look at the tree, turning over leaves and branches, we couldn’t see any insect that was hanging around munching on the green leaves. After a little research I thought it might possibly be June Bugs. So when it got dark we went out with a flashlight.

Sure enough! There were a good dozen June Bugs plastered all over the little tree, eating the leaves. Knocking them off had little effect. Because it was dark I didn’t think a decent picture could be taken. But, take my word for it, they were definitely June Bugs.

Knowing that any pesticide spray would be a losing battle I tried to think of something else. Something like a physical barrier. I remembered hearing about little mesh bags that fruit growers use to protect the fruits on a tree without having to use sprays. So why not try something bigger?


I ran down to a craft store in town and bought 4 yards of a white gauzy material, much like what’s used for bridal veils. Sewing it into a simple bag gave us a large enough volume to cover the whole tree. Tie it off at the bottom with the some string and, violà… whole tree protection. At least for a few years.

Hopefully, as the tree grows older and larger, it will have enough energy and resources to fend off this kind of defoliating attack in the future. Oaks are such slow growing trees though. It could be a very long time before it reaches that point.

Update Early August

After keeping the netting on for a few weeks dad decided to try taking it off. The small leaves were recovering and there seemed to be no sign of more june bugs. However, with the many Japanese beetles out there they were starting to get a little munch again. I think the little oak tree will make a full recovery.

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