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Sunday, January 18, 2015

What Caused the Holes in My Tree?

Q. I noticed that woodpeckers attacked our Palo Verde tree. There are probably 60 holes around the truck and main limbs. The sap is running even though the holes are just under the surface, not deep. Any advice how to prevent further damage and do you think this can eventually kill the tree?

A. This is probably one of the sapsuckers. Sapsuckers are type of woodpecker and a couple different types have been documented in southern Nevada. Some sapsuckers migrate through the valley and others maintain a year-round presence.
Sapsucker damage to eucalyptus

They damage a variety of trees including fruit trees and many different types of landscape trees. They frequently come back to the same tree over and over.
 The only thing you can realistically do is exclude them from the tree. This means putting up some wire mesh, burlap or other barrier to keep them from the trunk and larger limbs. They will still get into limbs where it is hard to put a barrier.
I have seen the same fruit trees damaged year after year for the past 20 years and the trees still seem to be still doing well. Damaged trees repair themselves more quickly if they are in good health; watered and fertilized adequately. I know it causes damage but it seems to be not life threatening so I would let it go unless the damage gets extensive.

If this seems to be seasonal, you could try some hot pepper sprays just before they begin damaging plants. Mark the event on your calendar and time your applications accordingly.

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