True Tree Enemies

If a tree had the capability to feel fear, it would probably feel the emotion when meeting up with both of these insect offenders.

Trees are often the target of many types of intruders, including moths and beetles. Many times it is when a tree is in a weakened state, or at the end of its life, that an insect will invade it. In each attack it is actually the larvae or “worm” that is doing the damage. As the larvae grow larger and mature, they expand and cause a wider extent of damage. When stressors such as environment or weather weaken a tree, this is when insects like the ones mentioned below will make their infestation apparent. Any tree or shrub can be the victim of an attack, but oaks, birches, maples, pines, honey locusts and crabapples are some of the worst species to be targeted.

Pine Sawyer Beetles

Several species of longhorned wood borers are in existence, the Pine Sawyer Beetle is probably the most common longhorn in Wisconsin. This hard-shelled, brownish and easily-camouflaged beetle has a long-antennae and powerful jaws. The name sawyer originated due to the sound that erupts from the insect when it chews on the inside of various conifer trees.  If you listen carefully, you can actually hear its sawing song.

Pine Sawyer Beetles live long lives and can spend several years from larvae to adulthood, chewing and burrowing deep into the wood of pine and other evergreen trees. The Pine Sawyer will normally choose a weakened or dying tree to infest and as they make a tree their host, they typically will not kill it, but they will leave their mark.

When a Pine Sawyer Beetle reaches adulthood, it will stop eating, spin a cocoon on the outside of a tree and emerge and fly away. After years in a host tree, they only have a mere few weeks to fly free outdoors before their life comes to an end.

Emerald Ash Borer 

In 2002 near Detroit, Michigan, the Emerald Ash Borer was finally discovered. It is popular belief that the insect started its infestation many, many years before then though.

The adult beetle, which is metallic green and about a half inch long, makes a “D” shaped exit hole in bark when it emerges. The most damage is actually done by the larvae, which feed in galleries (tunnels) just below the bark of almost any species of ash tree. This disrupts water and nutrient transport which causes branches, and in time, the entire tree to die.

It is said that the Ash Borer has killed more than 30 million ash trees, having a large effect financially on many communities, costing over millions of dollars on a national level.

Woodpeckers enjoy Emerald Ash Borer larvae, so if you are seeing large evidence of woodpeckers, there is a good chance that an infestation of Emerald Ash Borers is present.

Because of the vast damage the Emerald Ash Borer causes, firewood transport has been regulated in many states, including Wisconsin. For reference, a current map can be found here:

Other types of tree and wood-destroying insects exist, such as carpenter ants, termites and gypsy moths. It is unfortunate that control of any and most of these insects can be a long, costly and invasive process. The good news is that there is widespread awareness and work being done to combat the destruction caused by tree invaders such as these. We also have the option of taking things into our own hands by preventing the transport of infected wood, and of course, planting a tree.

If you are having an insect problem, Safeway Pest Management can help. “We’ll Give You Peace of Mind.” 262-679-4422 or 800-956-0800. Serving most of the State of Wisconsin.


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Filed under Pest Prevention, Wood Destroying Insects

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