runktrun(z7a MA)March 22, 2012

While beginning my spring clean up I have discovered a boring insect has wreaked havoc in my landscape as noted in some of the photos below. These shrubs were scattered throughout my property so it appears this is a wide spread problem. I have been poking through my insect books as well as notes from UMass Extension and have come up empty handed. There are multiple boring suspects and I am not sure even if I identify the culprit if there will be a solution. Has anyone had a similar problem?

The Viburnums might be a different issue but these were mature plantings that were not under any type of stress. Any advise on how to do an autopsy?

Tree Peony *note holes bored into branch

Acer palmatum 'Waterfall' *note holes bored into trunk

Viburnum x burkwoodii *trunk did not note bored holes.

black pine insect bored into trunk

Viburnum dilatatum note rotting-splitting trunk without signs of boring

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Dear KT -

Nice to see you here, but I'm so sorry about the boring damage. Could someone from the arboretum help? or coop extension?

What diameter are the holes? It seems ike whatever it is has pretty broad appetites.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 4:05PM
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what a mess! Could be multiple problems. The burkwoodi trunk looks a little bit like my V. burkwoodi 'Mohawk' death a few years back. I never did get a conclusive answer, but the plant had been in decline the previous year. Then the next spring, blech. I feel your pain.

looks like viburnum borer

Maybe you could bring some samples to a high-end garden center for id?

Otherwise, just think of the opportunities for new plants -- although admittedly a mature garden doesn't take well to big gaps like that.

Can you cut below the holes to save anything?

I once saved a Blue Spruce from a borer that was in the leader. I cut the leader off well below the observed hole and started to train a new leader. I treated with Merit Tree & Shrub soil drench to get the borer or young'uns left behind. All's well. Some references say you can (should?) find the borer with a wire or something to remove it.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:24PM
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It could be a rose borer going after your tree peonies. Those nasty guys can do a number on not only roses, but peonies as well.

You can find some great info about local invasive species on the Massachusetts Introduced Pests Outreach Project website:

You can find the Fact Sheets here:

There's info on the pine shoot borer and other pests in there. It doesn't look like it's been updated recently, but I'm sure all the material on there still applies.

Good luck!!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:58AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

There are so many borers that it's hard to know which one might do that. I thought of Vibrunum borers, but the shape of the hole looks different to me. Try the Massachusetts Master Gardeners Help Line. You can email them and send the pictures. The address is: Or you can call at 617-933-4929

They're open Wednesdays, and Fridays at this time of year.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 1:15PM
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runktrun(z7a MA)

Thank you so very much for the advise. I spent a good amount of time investigating your suggested sites which were very informative. But alas after much investigation I have yet to really narrow it down as my reported local troublemakers don't seem to be the culprits and it appears that although there are many borers in the insect family many tend to behave in similar patterns (at least to the novice).
I do have a couple of gaping holes in my landscape but I am looking froward to choosing some new plants. kt

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 6:04PM
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