With the tree boring insects, the leaves are smaller than normal and never seem to be the right color. The bark on their trunks is stained in odd colors and peeling in places. They seem to be constantly dropping pieces of deadwood on the lawn.
We hope for their good health, and sometimes are encouraged by periods of growth, but they never seem to make it to their happy place, leaving us at a loss for what to do.
Declining trees very often fall victim to insects that feed on their woody tissue, making their condition worse. They are referred to as boring insects, and they make tunnels through the bark of trees while in their larval stage.
When they reach the sapwood of the tree they feed on the nutrients that the tree is transporting to and from its branches. This drain on the energy of the tree causes a failure to thrive, and eventually death by starvation.
If the tunneling is prolific, the structural integrity of the wood can be compromised to the point of failure. In other words, the tree breaks. Chemical treatments of trees are largely ineffective against this type of pest because of where they are in the tree.
In some cases, it is difficult to detect the presence of this kind of pest because of how small the entry is. For example, the Emerald Ash borer leaves a “D” shaped hole in the bark of an
Ash tree about the size of a ballpoint pen tip. But there are clues to their presence if you look. While boring, the pest leaves excrement behind called frass. It looks like very fine sawdust and can sometimes be seen protruding in plug form from the entry hole or in piles around the base of the tree.
Also, the tree will sometimes leak sap from the wounds. This sap turns different colors when molds and fungi feed on it, and it leaves stains on the bark.
Ask any good arborist who practices tree health care and he or she will tell you that the best way to prevent borers from becoming a problem is to keep your trees healthy. Like most parasites, these insects prefer to attack weak and declining trees.
But talk of prevention is really no help to someone who has a serious problem with these pests. What do we do about them if we have them?
Get rid of the infested trees. When these pests reach a certain mass, their reproductive cycles can be staggering. Some of them – like the Southern Pine Beetle – can reproduce through 7 generations in one year. That’s a lot of wood munching.
The pests lie dormant in the winter months, and they begin their destructive activities when temperatures rise above 58 degrees. This makes winter a good time to remove trees that are infested.
If the wood from the tree is removed from your property, the pest goes with it. This gives the more healthy trees a better chance. Call a pest control specialist to help you decide what to do about your pest problem.