falling tree twigs? or bug damage, you decide

OklaMoniOctober 28, 2008

Here is a picture of it, and the description of the damage it does:


Many trees are targeted such as oak, pecan, hickory, dogwood, and other shade, nut, and fruit trees.


A stout, gray-brown, hard-shelled beetle about 3/4 inches long. Distinguishing marks include a light stripe across the wings and antennae, as long as its body. Adult beetles emerge from mid-August through early October. Adult females chew V-shaped grooves into twigs near the ends of the branches and deposit 3 to 8 eggs into each groove. Then they chew a continuous notch around the twig, girdling it. The notch restricts the flow of sap into the twig, killing it, but provides the necessary conditions for the larvae to develop. The twig breaks and falls to the ground, where the larvae overwinter in the twig.


Adult females girdle small pencil-sized twigs during late summer and fall. Twigs up to 3 feet long drop to the ground beneath the tree. The broken end of the twig seems to have been ground smooth all the way around, although the center may appear cracked. Girdled stem will have beveled ends. Stems weakened by this pest will break off during wind storms or may hang in the tree. Young trees can be severely affected.


For prevention and control, gather and burn all girdled twigs that fall to the ground.

This info is from the Tulsa Master Gardeners website.


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I have 4 pecan trees, two are saplings about shoulder high. The twig girdlers hit two of the trees, one larger about 6 inch diameter trunk and one of the little ones. The little one had 3 shoots out the top and now it only has one left. The older tree lost at least 20 branchs. I have picked up every twig and have them in a black garbage bag to send to the dump when I am sure everything has quit falling. No more pecan trees anywhere within about 1/2 mile of me and this is the first year for them. I talked to the people at the local nursery and they weree completely baffled by the twigs. I had already found the same information on the web but was looking for some type of spray that I could use. I did catch several of the beetles in action and sprayed them with soapy water which did them in post haste. I am now worried about next spring and whether the little sapling will survive with it being so drastically pruned.

Thanks for the posting with the photo. Bob

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 7:43PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Small pecan tree saplings are surprisingly resilient. We have a small one that sprouted in the yard (most likely courtesy of a squirrel) 6 or 7 years ago. We don't want this tree because it is only about 5' from a red oak. Every time we mow the yard--so about once a week during the lawn season--we mow it down. It regrows. If we skip mowing for a week or two, it gains height quickly. Based on the fact that 6 or 7 years of constant mowing haven't killed this little sapling, I'm guessing that twig girdlers probably won't kill yours.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 8:43PM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

I just don't see that much damage on my trees from girders. Possibly because I don't use pesticides and my neighbor doesn't either. We have a very healthy bird population.

I worry more about the bucks shredding the bark off my young trees here in a month or so like they did last year. :-) They healed up nicely over the summer. I'll be glad when they are big enough that the deer leave them alone.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 8:59PM
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The girdlers were bad last year and are even worse here this year. Every pecan tree along the road has at least 20 to 30 twigs under it.

Your small pecan seedling will not have much lasting damage. Usually you don't want any limbs coming out of the main trunk for the bottom 6' or so, and you want a strong central leader since pecan branches eventually become so susceptible to breaking off in storms or under heavy crops. The pruning will probably let the remaining shoot become dominant which is much better than having three equal shoots. I'm guessing the two girdled shoots still have a little bit remaining since the girdlers don't like to cut near a crotch. Sometimes this can be a blessing, but it sure does make you mad, doesn't it.

The only pecan trees I have seen that have no girdler damage are the 20 acres on our place where we used an airblast sprayer for weevils in September. These have virtually no damage, but everything else (where the crop did not justify spraying sevin) has the most damage I can recall. I have picked up well over a thousand of these twigs so far and they are still everywhere.

They seem to prefer trees that kept their leaves far along into the fall. Either that or the twigs without leaves are just much harder to spot on the ground.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 11:25PM
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