Citrus tree branches bark chewed off- fast and a lot!

robert_tampabay(9)June 29, 2007

I have a beautiful orange tree that I have just noticed has had its branch's barked chewed/gnawed right down to the green layer of the branch. It seems to be chewed rather "neatly" and the bark is being eaten/chewed at a very fast rate. On some branches, it has been eaten/chewed almost right off the entire branch, (and this is a large tree!). This has happened in just the last few days and at this speed, the entire tree will be barkless soon... HELP! Does anyone know what could be causing this.. rats, squirrels, BIG insects or some strange disease..? Is the tree likely to die now? Is there anything I should do to the areas of the branches where the bark is gone to help them heal or protect them? This is sad... the tree fruits so well and the oranges are delicious, I would hate to lose it.

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birdsnblooms

Robert, by chance, did you guys have a cicada infestation this year? If so, I wouldn't doubt they had something to do with it..They killed 5 perrenial bushes I had planted outside 8+ yrs..plants are now goners.

Since your tree is large, I doubt it was an animal such as rat, rabbit..squirrels are another thing, they climb and eat foliage/bark..
Are you near a body of water? Could it be beavers..they're quite destructive. What happened to your tree sounds like something they'd do..I've seen trees at the woods devoured by beavers.
When you say the tree is big, how big do you mean? 10', 20', more?
Is it branches that have been gnawed on, or the trunk too?
Have you seen inprovement since starting this thread?
I'd cut the branch that has been eaten from.,..do you have a reliable nursery, a place where ppl can answer your question?
If so, perhaps you can bring the branch in and talk to someone who would know. Actually view the gnawing..
What about leaves? Are they chewed up? If so, totally or did they nibble leaving little holes per leaf? Toni

    Bookmark   July 5, 2007 at 3:31PM
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bencelest(z9 CA)

You sound like you have a nice sweet citrus tree.
I have a 6 foot cherry tree that had full of fruit. I thought the birds are my only enemy and I stopped them by covering the tree with the net but one morning I noticed that there were fruits at the bottom and some falling branches so what I did I dug 4 stakes about 3 feet high around the tree and tied a chicken wire mess about a foot from the trunk and sourround the tree with it. I did not see any more broken limbs after that and I was able to enjoy my cherries till they were riped.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2007 at 2:27AM
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malcolm_manners

Is it possible that there are fire ants chewing on the tree? that's the only common thing in this area that I know of, that can do such damage. They won't normally work on an otherwise healthy tree, but if the tree has scale insects producing honeydew, or copper deficiency so the bark blisters and oozes sap, then the fire ants just eat the whole thing for lunch.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2007 at 9:12PM
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jonlyd(z9 Tx (humid!))

I came to this thread because we have the same problem! It has devastated the bark in a week. We had 530 fantastic tangerines on this 15 ft. tree this season and an animal was eating the fruit. We found tangering rind on the ground that was was totally scraped empty inside like a bowl. We didn't get too worried about it, but now that the fruit are gone it has decided to take bark off. It is definitely an animal. There are teeth marks from fairly small teeth. We suspect, possum. Doubt that it is a squirrel because my mother could not get a squirrel interested in an orange at her house. This is extremely serious! There is so much gone in a week. We think that the tree is going to die!!!!! This is our PRIZE tree! I need to talk to the county extension agent tomorrow but I don't know if he can come out so soon. I am in Alvin, south of houston. We have 3 siberian huskies in the yard that are not doing their job at night!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 1:53PM
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birdsnblooms

Jon, it definately sounds like wildlife, not an insect. No insect could do that much damage in a matter of days.
I love animals, so would never hurt one..but for the time being, I'd set out a trap..(not one that will kill whatever is eating your tree, but those that attract, capture, and can be released in a wooded area.
As for your tree, I hope someone can help.
How much bark did it chew off? The outer layer or deeper? Toni

    Bookmark   April 27, 2008 at 5:45PM
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tolumnia(FL 9)

Do you have deer in your area? A guy I work with has a problem with deer eating his orange tree back to just sticks.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2008 at 11:55AM
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mastro97(10b)

ROOF RATS.

Hi Robert. I'm from Punta Gorda, pretty close. (actually just moved to Coral Springs) The roof rats had done the same thing years ago to some of our oranges before Charley blew through. They'll leave behind mostly a whole shell of an orange, completely hollowed out. Set out some traps. We've never encountered them in daily life, but they show up in the traps in the mmorning. They are most likely chewing/gnawing on the wood too.
-JM

Here's a link to everything you need to know..
Controlling Roof Rats in Fruit Trees

Here is a link that might be useful: Controlling Roof Rats in Fruit Trees

    Bookmark   May 3, 2008 at 2:11PM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

I disagree with hopeful. It sure sounds like rats to me. They love citrus. I had an infestation one year and they ate fruit and once the fruit ran out, they started gnawing the bark. The remedy? cats! Not a one to be found now. ::smiles his evil maniacal cat-got-the-rat grin:: heheeee
goooood kitty.
Apply some fresh aloe to the exposed wood and the edges of the bark that have been damaged. Quickly, while the aloe is still wet, dust some cyanne chilly power on it. The aloe will help the tree heal and the chilly will deter the rats (or what ever is chewing on them)

    Bookmark   May 8, 2008 at 7:31PM
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lavon_art-lavon_com

Bark is being chewed off the mostly horizontal branches of my prize Satsuma tangerine tree. I live in the Houston area. I suspect possoms since we seem to have a plague of them invading garage, attic and yard. There are cats around so I don't think it is rats. I don't want to lose the tree so I searched the net and found a product called JB NO CHEW. You can get it in a spray can and it not only protects the tree but helps heal it as well. I am going to try some for $19. I hope this helps other citrus lovers out there.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2011 at 1:20AM
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tantanman(z9Tx)

My trees are in Angleton and possoms are a pest this time of the year. They mostly eat soft fallen citrus, but when really hungry will take low hanging fruit. Use a raccon size live trap from Home Depot or similar Big Box Store.
Bait it w/ ripe banana. They are usually easy to trap. If they still get the fruit and avoid the trap, get some 1 in. chicken wire and some 3-4 ft stakes and encircle the tree and set the trap along side the wire. My brother caught 17 in 17 nights!

Stone fruit and persimmons loss with small limb breakage can be either possoms or raccons. Bait for raccons w/sardines. Some say marshmellows work. Sardines will catch a cat but it won't return. Use a smaller trap for squirrels and sunflower seed or pecans for bait. There are some tricks to catching squirrels that trip a trap and escape.

Fruit hollowed out is most likely rats. As is small teeth marks in bark. But dont rule out squirrels. Squirrels chew bark from pecans and oaks in my yard but The only citrus damage I have actually witnessed was them digging up small trees in pots and eating the roots beginning about now.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 2:59AM
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toni93230(Z9 Central CA)

Pretty sure it's roof rats. I came to this site in summer to find out what was eating the peel from my Meyer lemons; concensus seemed to be roof rats. (And there's rat poop around to substantiate that.) Now that all the fruit is gone, suddenly - and I mean, SUDDENLY - I noticed that several branches up in the tree appeared to have been painted. Upon closer examination, they're stripped! You can see in the picture how precisely they're doing it - shoot, I couldn't draw a line that straight! There is a flush of tender new growth just starting to appear on some branches, but they're not touching that - just the bark on older, nude branches. Going to OSH right now for some 33 gallon trash cans to make humane traps! (Oats and peanut butter in the bottom of the cans; put them near a table or something they can climb to get in; supposedly they'll jump in for the treat, but be unable to get out. Not sure I believe they can't jump that high... but I've used a similar trap to catch-and-release mice, and it worked great.)

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 6:29PM
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robert_tampabay(9)

The picture posted was the exact problem I had. Whatever was eating the tree barked caused too much stress on the tree and it took two seasons but it has died. The bark started to peel off the tree and it seemed to die in sections. Now there is just a mess of peeling bark and dead or near dead branches. What can you do, can't cry about it. Everything is impermanent and we all will die. Enjoy it ALL while we can- Peace!

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 8:09PM
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Steve, Z (6Bground,5B roof) Cincy,OH

Hi
I am having problems with SQUIRRELS, raccoons, SQUIRRELS, possums, SQUIRRELS, ground hogs, and, SQUIRRELS. Could any one of you southerners send me up one of them Burmese pythons. I can give it a very nice home with LOTS of food

Thanks Steve

Yep This guy eats about 2 to 5 bushels of my fruit

    Bookmark   March 20, 2013 at 11:04PM
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