If you see these pesky little bugs digging holes in your trees or shrubs, you might have a problem on your hands! Insect borers are one of the most destructive tree pests that property owners have to deal with, and they’re unfortunately common.
Here’s how to recognize and deal with these pesky pests, brought to you by the landscaping pros at Gutierrez & Sons.
What Are Borers?
You might be surprised to learn that a borer isn’t actually a type of insect: it’s usually the larval stage of some beetles and moths. It’s just a general term for any destructive insect that tunnels into trees. They’re actually named for what they do: they bore into bark, digging holes so they can feed and lay eggs.
You might wonder why they exist in nature if they’re such a destructive pest. The important thing to know is: insect borers are virtually harmless if they’re native insects in their native environments. They rarely infest native or healthy trees. The problems arise when you’re trying to grow non-native trees or you have an infestation of non-native borers in trees.
Why Are Borers Harmful?
The damage that insect borers can cause in trees is extensive. There are a few major tree health issues borers can cause:
- Adults plant their larvae on top of tree bark or on tree wounds around the spring or summer. The larvae hatch and immediately tunnel into the bark, feeding beneath the tree bark and eating the wood inside.
- The larvae destroy the networks inside the tree that draw water from the soil and help sap flow. If these networks are completely destroyed, the tree will quickly die.
- Additionally, the holes that borers leave make the tree highly susceptible to disease and pathogens.
The Most Common Borers In Trees
The most common and devastating borers are moths and beetle larvae. Look out for these common types of pests on your trees.
- Clearwing moth borers: These small moths look a little like wasps. The moths are not harmful to the tree, but the larvae look like white grubs or hairless caterpillars with brown heads. Clearwings commonly affect lilacs, rhododendrons, peach trees, and ash.
- Flatheaded beetle borers: These quick little beetles are metallic and flat. Ash, birch, and apple trees are highly susceptible to these insects.
How To Prevent Borers
Many tree borers dig into a tree when the tree is old, drought-stricken, has unsuitable soil, is sun-damaged, or is otherwise damaged. This is because injured trees often exude a chemical that the borers respond to, signaling other insects to plant eggs on the trees.
The best way to get rid of tree borers is to prevent them by keeping your tree healthy. We know this isn’t always easy or even possible, especially if you’re growing non-native trees, so another preventative measure to take is to inspect your trees for larvae in the spring and summer. Preventing the larvae from hatching with insecticide will stop most of the damage.
Spraying Your Trees with Insecticide
Once larvae hatch and burrow below the tree trunk, they can’t be sprayed with insecticide, so it can only be used as a preventative measure.
Check out this article from the University of Kentucky to see the ideal times to spray trees to prevent common borers.
Get an Inspection
It is possible to inspect the tree yourself by looking for larvae or other signs of borer damage. However, it’s very difficult to know what you’re looking for, properly diagnose the tree, and decide on the right treatment method if you have no experience. We highly recommend you contact a professional to decide what to do with your tree.
In many cases, the infestation may be so severe that you’ll have to remove the tree. If that’s the case, don’t try to cut down the damaged, unstable tree yourself. Contact a professional tree removalist to safely and efficiently remove the tree.
Contact Gutierrez & Sons for Professional Tree Advice
Our experienced tree and landscaping professionals have many years of experience in the greater Los Angeles area planting and growing healthy trees as well as safely removing them. We’re fully licensed, bonded, and insured with the State of California to ensure safety and credibility. If you have any questions about borers in trees or you’d like to schedule a free estimate, contact us anytime.