Every spring and fall I find these skinny beetles with heads like grasshoppers that chew on my dogwood and redbuds. They seem to cut around the branches making a cut which goes deeper and deeper. Sometimes the branch is cut off and then I find them doing this to another branch! Why are they cutting down my tree? I don’t see them eating any of the leaves or the bark. It’s like they’re just gnawing on the limbs and branches.
TWIG GIRDLER BIOLOGY
These are either twig girdlers or twig pruners. They typically target trees like basswood, Bradford pear, cherry, dogwoods, elm, hickory, honey locust, hackberry, oak, pecan, persimmon, poplar, redbud, wisteria and various other hardwood or fruit trees. Twig pruners are more active in the spring and twig girdlers are mostly active in the fall. Both are cutting branches so they can lay eggs because their young eats wood when they hatch.
TWIG GIRDLER DAMAGE
So after she cuts (or girdles) the branch, females will lay eggs in the fresh pulp down toward the center of the branch. Many times the branch will fall off the tree as it dies and rots. When the egg hatches, the larvae will feed on the dead branch (cellulose). They need the wood to be dead which is why the female cuts or girdles the limbs. This ensures the twig will die and be good food.
Here is what twig girdler damage looks like. Notice the limb targeted is less than 1 inch wide.
The larvae of both species will feed for a month or two and then go into a stage known as the pupae. The pupae typically hatch out adults which want to continue the cycle. Trees which experience activity will tend to have more and more activity. This happens because females leave a scent that other girdlers and pruners can smell. Twig girdlers can detect these scents from great distances and will come from far and wide to take advantage of a good tree to girdle.
TWIG GIRDLER TREATMENT
To stop the damage, you’ll need to spray the targeted trees. Treatments usually only need to be done once in the spring just before the activity starts and then again in late summer before they start their fall egg laying. There are two products that work well for this; one is a natural insect repellent and the other is a true pesticide that will last a lot longer and provide the best protection.
ORGANIC TWIG GIRDLER REPELLENT
The organic option is to spray PEST AWAY on all affected limbs they want to girdle. It’s made from plant oils and insects will stay off treated surfaces. This spray won’t kill anything and is perfectly safe to spray on any tree, shrub or other targeted plants. Treatments will last 3-6 weeks and usually two treatments will be needed when girdlers are most active. Typically this will be both spring and fall.
Add 2 oz per gallon of water and spray to the point of runoff on trees you want to protect. Retreat as needed; once a month is usually required when girdlers are active.
The following “short video” (less than 60 seconds long) gives the quick summary of how Pest Away works.
When mixed with water, treated plants will make them “bad” tasting as well as “alarming” so foraging insects like tree girdlers will avoid protected plants.
Our 8 oz jar mixes 2 oz per gallon of water and a mixed gallon of spray will treat up to 500 sq/ft.
BEST TWIG GIRDLER SPRAY
The second option is to spray a good true insecticide concentrate known as MAXXTHOR EC. This product will provide a long-lasting residual and keep both twig girdlers and twig pruners off treated surfaces for 4-8 weeks.
Be sure to spray the limbs they’ll target when treating. These are usually the smaller sized limbs toward the outside edges of the tree and not so much the sections close to the middle trunk of the tree.
Add .5 oz of Maxxthor per gallon of water and spray to the point of runoff. Treat as needed or once every 30 days to keep them away when active.
Use a good PUMP SPRAYER to make the application; ours can reach up about 15 feet.
If you need to reach up 20 feet or more, a good HOSE END SPRAYER will usually do the job. Our sprayer will use the power of your garden hose to reach as high as your water pressure can reach. Add 2.5 oz of Maxxthor to the sprayer and fill to the 5 gallon line. This amount will let you treat 2-4 trees.
For highest reach, get one of our NO PUMP SPRAYERS. This vunique sprayer is simple yet very good, easy to use and one of our “favs” for applying insecticides to your homes exterior and landscape (its too powerful for use inside).
Ideally suited for reaching heights of 40+ feet, it has no moving parts other than the valve you hold for spraying and the adjustable brass “bullet” nozzle.
This sprayer is essentially a tank that can hold water, chemical and up to 130 psi of air. The top lid has a clamp and rubber gasket that seats on the “inside” of the sprayer so as you fill it with air, the seal will naturally remain in place, nice and tight.
The top has 3 “ports” (pic below). The port to the far left is used to fill the tank with air. Using any electric air pump (the kind you would use the fill tires on your car), you can safely pressurize this sprayer up to 80 psi. The tank is rated for up to 130 lbs but the relief valve will only allow you to fill it to 80-90 psi before it starts to release. This happens as a safety precautionary action.
For normal use around the home, 50-60 psi should be enough for you empty the liquid from the 2.5 gallon tank assuming you only add 1 gallon of mixed product. True, the sprayer can “hold” 2.5 gallons of liquid but you need room for the air. Our tests show that 50-60 psi will pump out an entire gallon of spray allowing you to reach 25-30 feet heights.
For reaching 40+ feet or higher targets, pressurize the sprayer to 80 psi and again, mix up only what you plan on using and no more than 1 gallon of mixed solution at one time so the tank has enough room left to store all the needed “air”. One charge of 80 psi is enough to get the entire mixture to spray out so you don’t have to be concerned about constantly recharging.
The 5 GALLON NO PUMP can hold over 2 gallons of mixed material and can perform equally as well.
Remember, YOU WILL NEED AN AIR COMPRESSOR POWERFUL ENOUGH TO FILL THIS SPRAYER!! WE RECOMMEND ONE THAT CAN DO AT LEAST 100 PSI.
3 GALLON SETUP (remember to only fill it with 1 to 1.5 gallons of mixed solution to leave room for air)
(10% OFF WHEN ORDERING ONLINE)
5 GALLON SETUP (remember to only fill it with 2.5 (3 gallons max) if you want one tankful of air to pump it empty)
(10% OFF WHEN ORDERING ONLINE)
WATCH THIS VIDEO ON THE “NO PUMP” SPRAYER FOR OPERATIONAL DETAILS
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