How Is Gouty Oak Gall Detected And Managed?

Posted on: 11 May 2022

Oak trees are known for their tall stature, intricate leaves, and numerous acorns. If you have one on your property, it is certainly something to be proud of. But part of owning and caring for an oak tree is being aware of the potential ailments it could develop, one of which is gouty oak gall. Here is a guide to detecting and managing this condition.

Detecting Gouty Oak Gall

Gouty oak gall is basically an infestation that causes big, bulbous swellings to grow on the branches of an oak tree. It is caused by the larvae of Cynipidae wasps. Usually, the wasps will lay eggs on the tree in the fall, but you won't notice any symptoms until the spring after the eggs have hatched and the larvae have had time to proliferate inside the tree.

The main symptom of gouty oak gall is big, round bulges on the tree's branches. These swellings start off small and green. Over time, they grow larger, turn brown, and take on a more woody appearance. You may only see a couple of them at first, but if you don't take action, they will grow more numerous. In the summer, the galls will burst and adult wasps will swarm out of them.

Dealing With Gouty Oak Gall

Gouty oak gall does not usually kill an oak tree unless the tree is also diseased or weakened for some reason. As such, many tree care companies recommend simply ignoring a minor infestation. However, if you notice the galls are becoming more prolific, or you think your oak tree's health may be suffering, you can treat the infestation using the following methods.

1. Trimming away affected branches.

Sometimes most of the galls will be located on a branch or two. A tree care company can simply remove this branch from the tree. The removed branches should be burned to kill the larvae.

2. Raking and disposing of leaves.

In the fall, it's wise to rake and burn the leaves. This should kill any wasp eggs that are in the leaves so the larvae within don't make their way up into the oak tree.

3. Fertilizing the tree.

This will help strengthen the tree so it can stand up to the challenge of being a host to the wasps. Talk to a tree care company about deep fertilization, a method of injecting fertilizer deeper into the soil where the tree's roots can access it.

Gouty oak gall is not the most serious ailment, but it is one to watch out for if you have an oak tree.


Keeping Your Trees Healthy

About a year ago, I realized that our front trees were starting to look a little funny. Some of the leaves were wilted, but we weren't anywhere near autumn. The bark on the trunk also seemed to be rotting away, which was frustrating and disappointing. Fortunately, a friend of mine told me to call a professional arborist for help. He came out, inspected the trees, and injected some special pesticides into the trunk. Within a few months, they started to look a lot better. Our arborist also trimmed our trees to reduce the weight load on the branches and to improve their shape. Check out this blog for information about tree trimming.