Question of the Week – Number 1: March 8, 2018

“Neil, what is attacking my live oak tree’s trunk, and what can I do to stop it?”

This is the work (“damage” if you care to call it that) of either a sapsucker or a woodpecker – closely related birds.

Photo: Donna Bateman posted this photo to my Facebook page last weekend. It shows the characteristic rows of holes in the trees’ trunks and major branches.

Things to remember:

Sapsucker/woodpecker holes will always be in rows around the trunk. Borer (insect) holes will be randomly scattered.

These holes rarely cause severe damage or death to trees.

Presence of these birds and the holes they peck is not indicative of any particular problem. It does not suggest that insects are present within the trunk.

Continued Below


These birds peck holes, then come back later to feed on the sap that flows from them.

The birds are protected by law, so you can’t do anything to harm them.

You can make their visits miserable in the meantime by applying the very sticky Tree Tanglefoot product to the trunks where they are most actively pecking.

Seal the open wounds with a light spray of pruning paint.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top