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Are Borers Eating Your Tree From the Inside Out?!

While inspecting a client’s trees recently, we found a downed tree on the road and decided to take a closer look. It turned out that the tree was filled with borer insects, which were most likely the reason that the tree ultimately had to be taken down. Or at least the borers probably finished the job!


Boring insects can cause a lot of damage to your trees and can often kill them. The types of boring insects you may find in your trees include beetles, moths and wasps. Borers are generally attracted to weak, damaged and malnourished trees, which can lead to the tree’s ultimate demise.

If you have an insect issue with your tree, there is most likely an underlying issue such as drought stress or a fungal disease. This is why we promote preventative care to improve and maintain the overall health of your trees. Healthy trees are less attractive to pests and have an easier time fighting off them off if they invade.

  1. Red-headed ash borer (Neoclytus acuminatus) is one of the most common tree-boring beetles in our area. Its narrow reddish body is covered with yellow lines on the wings. They feed on many species of trees including ash, oak, elm and even grape vines. You’ll often find adults in deadwood or your firewood pile.
  2. Red oak borer (Enaphalodes rufulus) is known for attacking oak and maple tree. The adult beetles are reddish brown and lay eggs in the bark crevices. July and August are their busiest egg-laying times. The larvae then tunnel under the bark and into the tree. These destructive larvae can feed for an entire year and can cause serious girdling and branch death.
  3. Cottonwood borer (Plectrodera scalator) is frequently found on cottonwood and willow trees. Adult beetles are black and white and is frequently found on cottonwood and willow trees. Adult beetles are black and white and are active from about May through August. The larvae actually tunnel into the tree at the base of the trunk, often below the soil level and can feed on your tree for about two years.
  4. Locust borer (Megacyllene robiniae) are dark brown beetles with yellow markings. Like other beetles, they lay their eggs between the bark and then the larvae tunnel into the tree. If you see wet spots and frass on the bark, of your locust tree, you probably have borers. Larvae hatch from eggs laid in bark crevices.

For those of you on our Seasons Program, we not only feed your trees throughout the year, we inspect trees for damage from insects. To become part of our Seasons Program contact us this summer.

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