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1/30/2014 6:02:00 AM
Woodpecker or insect? Something's tearing up Kingman's trees
Damage to an almond tree in downtown Kingman might be the work of woodpeckers or a type of boring insect. (EVE HANNA/Miner)
Damage to an almond tree in downtown Kingman might be the work of woodpeckers or a type of boring insect. (EVE HANNA/Miner)
By Eve Hanna
Miner reporter

KINGMAN - It seems inconceivable that a woodpecker could cause the kind of damage that's been done to some trees in downtown Kingman, but that may be the case if "Bug Man" Carl Olson is correct.

"Looks like something a woodpecker might do," said Olson, who is with the University of Arizona's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Entomology in Tucson.

But a nearby homeowner who's outside nearly every day reported no recent woodpecker activity, and other fruit trees are suffering the same damage and dying.

Master gardener Mark Driscoll said shot hole borers might be to blame.

"We're seeing damaged trees nearly identical to this in other areas of town," he said. "It may be peach tree borers or some other species of borer - there are many."

According to Driscoll, once the infestation is severe, it's best to remove the tree and burn it.

Burning the wood is necessary to kill any larva or adult insects that may be living under the bark and prevent them from moving on and infecting other trees.

"Some people have tried to save their trees by spraying them with Bacillus Thuricide," he said. "It's a bacteria that controls caterpillars without harming the fruit or beneficial insects such as bees. I used it last year on tomato hornworms with good results, but it's hard to reach borers once they're inside the tree."

Driscoll said prevention is key for growing healthy trees and that it's important to keep them well watered - even in winter - so they don't get stressed and become easy targets for pests.

Other preventative measures were discussed on Saturday during a hands-on pruning workshop held in Golden Valley by master gardeners with the Mohave County Cooperative Extension Service.

Spraying trees with Dormant Spray, an organic horticultural Neem oil, prior to pruning is said to reduce the risk of disease and pest infestation.

Also, keep pruning shears and tools sharp to make clean cuts and avoid crushing limbs, and use a mixture of bleach and water or a disinfectant to clean tools between use on individual trees.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Article comment by: Norm Guerra

I have a couple of Willow pine trees in my yard that have been getting rows of 1/4" holes about 1/2" - 3/4" deep on the North side of the trees, about every 6" up the tree. Most of the holes are empty, some have a brownish chrysalis looking shell inside. I contacted the U of New Mexico agriculture department, (the only ones that would answer me back) sent them pics, they also said it is caused by sap suckers, but I see no bird activity other than doves and a few crows.
If there is someone locally that I can get to come out to look at this, please let me know.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: V Stokes

Doesn't look like woodpecker damage that I'm used to...but no real perspective in the shot. Never saw any bug make holes like that though.

Remember...woodpeckers are going for something inside the wood (unless they are just drumming to establish territory or looking for a mate) it was already infested.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Lovin' Mohave

Acorn woodpecker!! :-)

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: joker wilde

Alien woodpeckers did it.

Posted: Friday, January 31, 2014
Article comment by: Lovin' Mohave

Pileated woodpeckers also do damage that looks like this.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Dannies Joy

My vote is for the Woodpecker. We have gutters on our house and it sounds like a jackhammer when Woody arrives. We had a similar problem in another state and had to put a screen on the top of our gutters. We also had a Pine tree that showed the beginning of Beetle infestation and it DID NOT look like the photo you posted. We had a Certified Arborist check all of our trees and the Pine was the only one infected. Thanks to our neighbor who has two HUGE Pines in his yard and a Mulberry...ALL which are infested and he won't do anything about it.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: WOODPICKER Gotta Love'm

ya it's woody the woodpecker. PS I have no advanced degrees not even a HS diploma. Bugs don't bore in patterns like this pic. Peace out!

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Lovin' Mohave

Red-naped sapsucker or some type of sapsucker, I'm pretty sure!

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: mr. parker

Those holes look pretty large for woodpeckers, on the other hand would insects infest trees in patterns like that?

If it is insects, it's not necessary to spray, there are injections that can be put directly into the tree. Mauget and Arborject are two companies that produce these products.

Let the arborists decide what the cause is, not the "environmentalists."

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Butch Meriwether

My wife had some pine trees on her property and one furthest away from the house started dying and she didn't do anything about it. Sooner or later, each tree next to the dying one also started to die. At the end, all of her pine trees had died and it was determined that the culprit was Hualapai Beetles. When you see one dying, cut it down and burn it so they will not infect the other tree in your yard.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: No need for chemicals

Boring insects do not make holes in straight lines and patterns like this. Woodpeckers do.

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014
Article comment by: Blue Skys

The photo appears to have been taken on Spring Street, downtown. If so, the holes depicted in the image were definitely caused by sapsuckers, a type of woodpecker. I live a block over and have witnessed sapsuckers drill my ash tree.

The almond tree in the image should be well watered to encourage growth come spring. Also, the owner can wrap the affected area in burlap, cinching the wrapping to the trunk with string, thereby discouraging more feeding from taking place in the area.

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