Your Girdler is Showing!

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By Jack James

At the coffee shop this week, a hometown gentleman was worried because his hickory tree had lost some smaller branches. With his trusty cellular device, he researched and found out he is a victim of twig girdlers! I’d never heard of them, but had seen their work. Thought you might like some information too.

Twig Gridlers are a skinny beetle. They have a head like a grasshopper and are not the prettiest of insects. They feast on trees like basswood, Bradford pear, cherry, dogwoods, elm, hickory, redbud, persimmon, pecan, oak…you get the idea. Most any tree you have on the place can fall victim to these ugly pests.

They are active in the spring but are really active in the fall. The crazy thing about these guys is that they band the limb, meaning they cut the bark, and then eat until the limbs are cut completely through, usually on a branch no bigger than an inch wide. They make such a perfect cut with their little insect incisors that you almost think you have someone pruning your tree. In fact, there is a cousin to the girdlers that are called twig pruners.

They lay eggs there so their young can eat wood when they hatch. The female lays eggs in the fresh pulp down toward the center for the branch. The eggs feed on the sugar in the dead branch and they must love it. The larvae feed for about a month or two and then the growing process begins, according to the research from my friend’s email. Once a girdler prunes a tree and lays the eggs, they put a scent on the tree, one that others can detect from great distances. Girdlers will come from far and wide to take advantage of the proven goodness of a tree.

There are products that will take them on down the road, away from your cherished trees, shrubs and bushes. You need to spray the trees. In the spring before they get to cutting and in the fall when the eggs start being laid, is the perfect answer to making them miserable. Products are on the market if you find the need for it. Just tell the man at the COOP you have problems with your girdlers. Hopefully he will keep eye contact.

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