Cheery Blossom Tree Damage Question - Knowledgebase Question

Nashville, TN
Question by paulerip
August 26, 2017
I have a large cherry blossom tree in the front yard of a house we purchased last year in TN. The tree trunk had some noticeable damage when we moved in but it has gotten substantially worse over the year. I noticed a lot of very small black ants in and on the tree truck by the damage yesterday and what looks to be tunneling in the base of a branch that broke off. Can anyone help out with what this may be and what's causing it?
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Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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Answer from DaisyI
August 26, 2017

0

Are there any green leaves on your tree?

Your tree has borers. The trunk looks bad because the bark is delaminating as the borers eat the soft layers underneath. Those layers just under the bark are the phloem (the conduit for moisture and nutrients traveling between the leaves and the roots) and the cambium (the trunk's growth center). A tree can't survive without those layers. Once the bark is gone around the entire tree, the nutrient and moisture exchange between roots and leaves will be severed and the tree will die.

The borers may have been the original problem or, more likely, moved in when they saw an opening due to mechanical damage (rabbits, lawn mowers, weed whacker), sunburn, poor pruning habits or poor irrigational practices . The ants are feeding on the 'dew' left behind by the borers.

By the time you see this much damage, there's not much hope of saving your tree. The borers can't be killed once they enter the tree. Your best bet is to try and find something that will kill the eggs and beetles. Dormant sprays in winter will suffocate overwinter eggs and painting the trunk will keep the adults from laying eggs. The borers will spread to other trees.


Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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A comment from ctcarol
August 26, 2017
I agree with everything Daisy said, with one possible exception. There is/was an injectable product for borers that has to be administered by professionals. It may not be licensed in your state, however. In any case your tree is too far gone, I think

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Image
A comment from DaisyI
August 26, 2017
We used to be able to get something in CA that killed them (it took a couple years) but it has been banned.

It would be worth checking with your local farm bureau or Ag Extension.

Nashville, TN
A comment from paulerip
August 27, 2017
Thanks all, appreciate the responses. I'm going to treat the tree with "Demon Max" Insecticide and see if that helps. It looks like this tree is not going to be able to be saved but if it is bark borer beetles it may stop the spread to our other 5 large cherry trees if I can treat these and get in front of them. I haven't seen any beetles on, in or around the tree - is that normal? With that much damage I would assume it would be easy to spot them...

Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
Image
A comment from ctcarol
August 27, 2017
Bark beetles are not easy to spot. They bore a hole in the bark and lay their eggs in it. The resulting offspring live under the bark. If you don't see the holes, you won't know thet're there until the damage is done.

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