The Q&A Archives: Twig Girdlers on Willow Tree

Question: I have a willow tree that has been attacked by twig girdlers. There is some ring damage occuring on one limb. Could you tell me more about this insect including the best way to avoid them or rid myself of them?

Answer: Twig girdlers are long grey to black insects with antennae that are about as long as their body. They chew a small branch almost in two with a neat, saw-like cut around the branch. Then they lay their eggs in the branch out beyond where they made their cut. This branch will fall off in time. When the branch is on the ground the larvae leaves the branch and pupates in the soil to start a new generation. They have been seen on a number of woody species including willow, rose, pecan and persimmon to name a few.

Damage from twig girdlers is usually not severe and just amounts to some minor pruning. In heavy infestations on a young tree they can set the plant back a bit, but seldom if ever warrant controlling with sprays.

The best way to keep their numbers down is to promptly pick up and destroy the fallen branches. You may also want to tell your neighbors about them so they can do the same.

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