We have an uncommon insect appearing in our Tulip Poplar trees. Magnolias and sassafras trees are also at risk. The poplars will have leaves with brown dried edges and small brown spots. From a distance, the trees appear to suffer from leaf scorch or some other disease, but this is the work of small dark insects called the Yellow Poplar Weevils, Odontopus calceatus. Generally, these are most common further north in central Appalachia.
If you do have weevils, more than likely you’ll find the damaged leaves on the ground. While the appearance may be unsightly, the injury to large, established trees in landscapes or wooded areas is probably inconsequential. Chemical control is not needed
By mid-summer the adult weevils will have retreated into the leaf litter, where they’ll remain inactive until the following spring. It’s really too late to do anything now except clean up and dispose of the damaged leaves. Burn or bury. Do not compost.
Article written by Glenn Palmer, Extension Master Gardener Volunteer.