A dying tree may look perfectly healthy from the outside, while inside the trunk is beginning to rot, or worse, the roots are slowly dying. This leads to a hazard, since the tree can topple unexpectedly during a storm or on a windy day, resulting in property damage or injury. The following signs can help you spot trouble early, so that you can have the tree treated or removed before it becomes a danger.

Sign #1: Branch or leaf die back

One of the first signs of trouble is minor die back. Small limbs may die, or the leaves near the tips of branches by wither prematurely. In some cases, entire large branches may fail. This is often indicative of either a viral disease that is killing the tree, or root death. In some cases, though, it could just be a temporary fungal or insect problem. If the die back isn't severe, wait to see if the tree recovers the following year, since most healthy trees bounce back from minor issues quickly. If the problem persists or worsens, bring in an arborist.

Sign #2: Bark loss

The bark is a key component to a tree's health. It protects the trunk and the cambium layer of the wood, which is where the tree's vascular system is housed. A tree that is dying from the roots or from the heartwood may begin losing bark. It will become dry and brittle, leaving large patches of bare wood. Keep in mind the tree species, though, since some trees, like paper birches, naturally have peeling, brittle bark. Trees rarely recover from conditions that lead to severe bark loss, so it is usually best to have it removed.

Sign #3: Insect infestations

Dying trees often become weak, which makes them susceptible to insect infestations. If you notice increased insect activity, it's time to bring out an arborist to diagnose the cause and determine if the tree can recover. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and other birds that feed on tree dwelling insects can also indicate a problem. These birds tend to drum on trees that have insects burrowed into the trunk, since the drumming brings the pests to the surface for feeding. If you notice increased bird drumming activity in a tree, the trunk may be infested.

Sign #4: Fungal growth

Interior rot or root rot are the most common causes for fruiting fungal growth on a tree. If you notice fungus, such as shelf fungus, sprouting from near the base of the tree, chances are the roots have begun to rot. Fungal shelves may also sprout higher up on the trunk if rot is occurring within the trunk. Although the tree may recover with less water and better drainage, chances are it will die soon so it should be removed.

Talk to a tree service company in your area for more help or visit a website like http://www.prtree.com