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Oak twigs Dropping? Could be Twig Girdler Beetles

If you’ve noticed small branch tips or twigs turning brown and falling from your trees, twig girdler beetles could be the culprit. While healthy trees can generally tolerate this insect, it can cause a lot of damage if its populations get too large.

What is a Twig Girdler?

Twig Girdler is a grey/brown beetle, about ½”-3/4” long, with a grey stripe across the wings. The distinguishing feature is their long antennae, making them a member of the long-horned beetle family.

These insects cause girdling damage as adults. Adult beetles emerge in the late summer and early fall. The female chews a groove around the entire twig, girdling the branch. They then lay their eggs into the groove. The eggs hatch after about a week, and then tunnel further into the girdled bark to feed before pupating and reemerging as adults the following summer.

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Clemson University – USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org

What does the damage look like?

The damage caused by twig girdler beetles might not be noticeable, or it can look like damage from other creatures such as squirrels (that also like to chew on twigs and branches). It can also look like storm damage. The telltale sign of twig girdlers is the small tips of branches browning. Over time, you’ll notice those twigs or small branches hanging loosely in the canopy or littering the ground under your trees.

It seems this year the insects are attacking predominantly all types of oak. But they also enjoy a long list of other trees, including pecan, hickory, hackberry, and elm.

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Twig Girdler damage

What is the solution?

Normally, twig girdler beetles are found in relatively small populations, and healthy trees can tolerate their damage without any sort of treatment. But if you notice a lot of damage, it’s best to call in a tree pro. Large infestations can weaken a tree, leaving it susceptible to disease pressures and further insect attacks – especially if the tree is already stressed. In addition, the damage can be quite unsightly. In this situation, your arborist may recommend an insecticide treatment to keep populations at bay.

To help naturally reduce twig girdler populations, be sure to rake up and dispose of any fallen twigs this summer & fall. By doing so, you can remove some of the larva that are feeding on the dead wood.

If you see a large amount of twig dieback in your trees, be sure to give us a call. We’ll help to diagnosis the problem & recommend the best course of action.

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