Beware Black Twig Borers: What East Texas Tree Owners Need To Know

While the black twig borer isn't a new threat to east Texas trees, the long-term damage they leave behind is now becoming more apparent. As an east Texas home owner who has a lot of trees on your property, black twig borer is a pest you need to know about if you want to ensure their survival. Here are three things you need to know about this little tree-damaging pest.

What Is Black Twig Borer?

Black twig borer is a type of beetle from the Ambrosia beetle family, and it is very small. At only 1/16 long, it is unlikely you will notice them crawling on your trees unless you are specifically looking with a magnifying glass.

Ambrosia beetles predominantly like to attack dying hardwood trees, but the black twig borer is partial to healthy trees as well. Since you won't see the beetle itself, you need to know what type of tree damage to look for so you can identify its presence.

What Damage Does Black Twig Borer Do?

When black twig borer starts infesting your trees, the following types of damage can be seen:

  • Wilting branches. Black twig borer kills branches rather than the whole tree to start with. Branches starting to sag while turning brown or yellow should be inspected for signs of the borer.
  • Small holes. Grab a magnifying glass and look at the underneath of your failing tree branches. You are looking for pin-sized holes about 1/32 inch on the underneath of the branch stem. This is proof borer are nesting in the tree.
  • Fungus growth around dying branches. When the female adult black twig borer lays her eggs, she also spawns a white fungus within the nest to feed her babies when they are born. You may see evidence of this fungus extending from within the nest out onto the tree trunk.

If you are uncertain of whether the borer are the cause of your unhealthy tree problem, you can get more info from an arborist, who can make a positive identification for you. They can also help you with the next step which is getting rid of the twig borer before it completely kills your trees.

How Do You Eradicate Black Twig Borer?

The good news is if you positively identify the black twig borer in your tree branches, it doesn't automatically spell doom for the whole tree. There are three main things you need to know about controlling this pest.

  1. Insecticides have no effect on the borer once they have moved into the stem of the tree, so using this method of eradication is not open to you.
  2. Locate the borer entry holes in the branch stem and then cut the branch away about 4 inches down from there. This will prevent the borer getting into the trunk of the tree. Make sure infected branches are disposed of away from other healthy trees so any borer living in the cut branches do not make your healthy trees their new home.
  3. Keep the closest watch on your branches during summer as this is when the borer are most active with reproduction. Prune every damaged branch you see in the early stages of wilting.
  4. Practice healthy tree growth by watering during the summer and using mulch to keep tree roots from drying out. Healthy trees stand a stronger chance of survival from beetle infestation.

Being aware of what can attack your trees means you can take positive action the minute black twig borer strikes rather than letting it take hold of your healthy plants. Get your pruning shears sharpened and your magnifying glass out so black twig borer doesn't ruin your east Texas backyard.