Oak trees are beautiful large growing trees. There is actually over 600 species of oak trees. Unfortunately due to farming and environmental changes many of the species of this tree are almost extinct in the wild.
Oak is known for its uses as a building material. Oak naturally has a high tannin content, this makes it resistant to most insects and fungal attacks. Today we use oak for the construction of furniture, flooring and timber made buildings. The wood is also used for wine and liquor barrels and the bark is sometimes used for bottle corks.
For all the uses of this tree there is no wonder there are some species that are close to extinction.
For all the good things the wood can do, there is another side…The leaves and the acorns of the oak tree are toxic to cattle, horses, goats and sheep when consumed in large amounts. The toxicity is due to the tannic acid the tree produces, the acid can cause kidney damages.
In this new age of super bugs and rules against certain pesticides and chemicals, the tree that used to be know for its ability to resist fungas and insects, is falling victim to them. There is a condition called sudden oak death, this is a water mould that kills an oak within a few days. There are also some moulds that cause the leafs of the tree to wilt.
Wood-booring beetles and worms are another threat to the oak tree;
Oak-worms very in infestation and damage, the oak worm grows from the eggs that are left behind in the bark from the oak moth. When these each hatch into the worms the worms start to eat away at the foliage, depending of how bad the infestation is the worms can devour the leafs completely.
Tent Caterpillars come from eggs that are attached to the branches of the tree that were left there from large body moths the summer before. Tent Caterpillars are fury with a dark background, in the warm weather they leave their nest and eat away at the new foliage and roots. The caterpillar will also spread to other trees however the oak tree is their favourite.
Borers are the larvae of moths and beetles. These larvae live underneath the bark on the branches and trunk of the tree. During the summer months, moths and beetles lay their eggs within the cracks of the oak trees bark. As the larvae emerge and grow, they start to feed off the bark, eventually cutting off flow of water and nutrients to the tree. The Beatles that lay their eggs in the tree not only eat the bark and cause damage through disrupting the flow of nutrients but they also can carry fungas that can effect the tree as well.
Many of these issues used to be something that was controlled by different fertilizers. But its a double edged sword, the fertilizers we need to kill the bugs are no longer legal, and because of years of use of toxic fertilizers there are more bugs then ever, and they have grown to be resistant to most methods we use today for pest control.