River Birch questions

Hi all. Newbie here. Mid Alabama resident. I have two questions concerning my 2 River Birches. I have let these problems go one hoping to figure them out myself, until this morning when I expressed concern for them for the 12th time my wife finally said "Go to google groups!" So here I am...
We have lived in our home for about 1.5 years. The home is 10 years old. So I assume the RBs in my front yard are between 12 and 15 years old, very nice size and provide awesome shade.
Last year, I found that they had a few "cacoons" in them... full of catipillars. I ignored one or two, then in a few short weeks, both looked like spiderman got high and went nuts on them! It was too late, but I bought some insect killer bottle that you connect to your water hose, sprayed the trees, and the caterpillars inside died. Too late though, the trees were on their way to an early winter nap. This summer the trees are flourishing! Looking great! Spotted 3 or 4 cacoons early in May. I sprayed them down, and they are no more. My first question is this; are these what yall call "Leaf Miners?" And whatever they are called, is there good preventive maintenece to avoid them attacking my RBs?
River Birch Question number 2... It is Late June here right now. But recently, the RBs are acting like it is FALL! there are leaves all in my front yard from the RBs, they still have a healthy ammount of leaves on them, but many are turing yellow, and falling off. At first I thought it was due to the heavy wind and rains we have had recently, but ill look out my window with no wind outside and a leaf will just fall off right in front of my eyes. I dont watter them (I know I know) but never have and they seem to be fine with that. Plus, we get a rain shower on average every day at 2pm here in the south suring the summer. Any clue? thanks in advance! Jameson
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (jameson) wrote in message

I live in your area. They are called web or tent catapillars. They are attracted to certain trees like wild cherry, persimmon, birch, and even walnut. The webs make the tree look bad, and if not sprayed, they will eat most of the leaves, but I have never seen a tree killed by them. Leaf miners, on the other hand, are microscopic worms that burrow within the leaf's structure causing white trails within the individual leafs. The web catapillers are easily killed with common pesticides whereas leaf miners require a nasty pesticide (lindane) to be absorbed by the tree and kill the worms from circulation within the tree.

I have several small river birch trees started in pots and they are doing the same thing. I assume it is weather related. With a name like "river" you would assume excess rain would not be the problem so I'm guessing it's related to insufficient sunlight. Reduced sunlight due to shorter days is what triggers leaf drop in the fall, so maybe they are fooled by all our cloudy weather lately.
Bob S.
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Bob and Harlan; Thanks so much for your responces... they make sence and put me at ease that many other birches are doing the same thing. Thank yall for your advice. Bob, where-bouts do you live? Jameson
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (jameson) wrote in message

P'ville - north of Montgomery.
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Jameson:
I live in the Chicago area and have several river birches in my yard. There are also a lot of river birches in the area, and almost all of them have the leaf drop problem. Along with that, many of the leaves on the trees are not a strong dark green, but rather light green. My understanding is that it is caused by a lack of a "mineral" of some type. The trees aren't being fed what they need. My river birches are very large, by the way. One of them has a diameter of over 30" three feet up from the base.
The leaf drop occurs every year. We have a guy around here who advertises that he can stop the leaf drop and make the trees "healthy" again. Maybe so. I may give it a shot on a couple of the smaller trees. The very large one has just about reached the end of its life cycle after 27 years.
Harlan

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