Flatheaded borers are beetle larvae that live just beneath the bark of tree trunks, branches and roots. They are similar to termites in that they dig out tunnels in the wood, and signs of an infestation include sawdust around the tree as well as loose bark that can be pulled apart. Flatheaded borers are small, approximately one-inch in size, and they are white with no legs. The most common type of flatheaded border is the flathead appletree borer.

What Makes Flatheaded Borers a Nuisance?

With their small size and slight appearance, it’s hard to believe that flatheaded borers can take on a tree of massive proportions. Interestingly, it’s the larvae that are most damaging since they feed within the vascular layer that is underneath the bark. What this does is cut off the supply of water and nutrients to the tree, and branches and twigs begin to die and fall off. If the infestation is severe enough, it can cause the tree to die.

What makes flatheaded borers an even bigger threat is that by the time the signs of damage are noticed, it’s often too late. Since the insects work on the inside of the tree, by the time the exterior signs have surfaced, the tree may have been severely weakened.

Is there Help for Infected Trees?

If you notice that branches and twigs are dying and the bark can be easily pulled off, it’s time to have an arborist who is licensed in pest control to make a proper diagnosis and make recommendations for treatment.

Can Flatheaded Borers be Prevented?

Flatheaded borers can be prevented, so you don’t have to live in fear of these pests taking over your trees. Prevention is the best form of management, and it will go a long way in protecting trees. This is especially important in nurseries and orchards where there are a lot of trees and woody vegetation, and the problem can easily spread.

The best approach is to keep the trees healthy. When trees are healthy, they are not as vulnerable to attack. Treat any infestations immediately and be sure not to inflict mechanical wounds on the trees. Any damage is an open invitation for flatheaded borers. Vegetation around the trees should also be removed. By caring for the tree and keeping it protected from wounds, you will minimize the risk of borers taking over the tree.

What Happens if the Tree is Heavily Infested?

Sometimes, trees become infested by borers despite the best efforts of the owner. If this is the case, take charge immediately in order to prevent the borers from spreading. Trees that are heavily infested should be removed and burned so that developing borers do not complete their life cycles. All branches and debris from the tree should be removed. New trees and plants should not be planted close to the site of infestation, and keeping the base of the tree exposed will make it easier to spot flatheaded borers early on and stop the infestation.

While flatheaded borers can do a lot of damage, especially with their hearty life cycles and powerful larvae, that doesn’t mean you have to fall victim to these pests. By caring for your trees and keeping them healthy and strong from the beginning, you can greatly decrease the chances of the trees becoming infested from borers.