I think you may have more then one thing going on with your tree.* Here's a pic of a root maggot fly that has been parasitized.* They die and cling to a tree.* Is this what you see?
You don't say where you live, but you could call your local extension service to see what is active in your area.
I suspect your maple tree may have been planted too deep, has too much mulch around the trunk and/or roots or wasn't watered properly it's first year.* Here's some sites for you to look at to see if the rootflare is exposed and how it was planted and watered.
When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.