What caused holes in my tree

by Ivylore
The evergreen tree in the backyard has a series of little holes going horizontally all the way up the trunk. Wondering what caused them--- woodpecker? I've never seen any around, so wondering what could it be?
little holes in the trunk of my tree
closer look at the trunk
  15 answers
  • Not Woodpecker. I doubt it is insect also. Normally insect damage to bark tends to be less of a pattern then this. I would dig into one of the holes to expose what is behind them to see if there is any damage to the core of the tree. Is the damage only on one side? or does it go all the way around? If you're wondering if this is an active insect attacking the tree you need to do some work. You need to mark an area on the tree and count the number of holes within that area. Then come back a few months later and count again. More holes? active insects. Is the tree alive?
  • Ivylore Ivylore on Apr 26, 2013
    Yes, the holes go all the way around. Yes, the tree is alive although it doesn't look as healthy to me as it used too. I will try to check it out as you suggest. Very puzzling! Thanks for your help!
  • I think you got it Gail. Sure looks like exactly what Irma posted. Great find!
  • Ivylore Ivylore on Apr 26, 2013
    Thanks again, Gail! My poor tree! I wasn't quite sure from the article if they are saying that my tree is dying and that's why the sap suckers are pecking it for the sap, or if their pecking is killing it. And I really didn't quite understand how to treat the tree how the article described (with the hydrogen peroxide, etc.) So, I'll need to do some more research! I hope I can save my tree!
  • Rossa D Rossa D on Apr 26, 2013
    few birds attack the evergreen tree, maybe it is a beetle burrowing into the wood.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Apr 27, 2013
    @Irma you could visit a local nursery and they can advise you on how to treat it. That might be the quickest way to find your answer. The other option could be an arborist - but that could be expensive. If you have a university near by they may have a faculty of forestry who may also be willing to help. Good luck and do update us with your progress. I am sure there are many others who would like access to this information.
  • Diane Diane on Apr 27, 2013
    I have these same markings on all 3 of my maple trees in my backyard. They have been there for years. I am sorry I didn't pay more attention to them before now. One that my Dad planted when we bought our house 32 years ago looks as if it is rotting and has lots of broken limbs. Will try this to see if we can save it. If not I will certainly keep some of the wood for something special.
  • Diane Kennedy Diane Kennedy on Apr 27, 2013
    Could be a woodpecker too seen this on our trees too!
  • Ivylore Ivylore on Apr 27, 2013
    Thanks, Gail! I will keep you all updated.
  • Ivylore Ivylore on Apr 27, 2013
    Thanks for your comments, ladies- it's definitely the sapsucker. Now that I am aware of it, I see the bird in the back yard. It looks like she's even starting to build a nest in one of the birhouses I just hung out last week! :( As a first step, I'm going to put away all of my birdhouses before she gets settled in! Sorry, bird!
  • Ivylore Ivylore on Apr 27, 2013
    I contacted the MSU forestry department and emailed a despcription of my problem... I'll let you know if I get any helpful information.
  • DF McElwee DF McElwee on Apr 28, 2013
    Woodpeckers are the culprit. They are after insects which have burrowed into the tree bark (food) in other words. Trees are not the only thing they will damage however. Anything wooden is at risk, including homes, sheds and so on. This link from Cornell should help in learning how to deter them. Good luck! http://www.birds.cornell.edu/wp_about/control.html
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Apr 28, 2013
    Believe it or not, we had a woodpecker that decided the downspout at the corner of the house where our master bedroom was, was a great place to hunt for food. He did this for months! Drove us crazy. A hint, if you have trees losing limbs and leaves at an alarming rate, you might want to consider having it cut down if there is a danger of it hitting your house. An Arborist told us our certain tree was not a problem, hubby was unhappy leaving it there (65' tall poplar, 2-1/2' across and within 25' of the corner of the house) so he said "take it down". To everyone's surprise, a foot across in the core was blackened! Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts!
  • Ivylore Ivylore on Apr 28, 2013
    Thanks, DF, it is definitely a yellow-bellied sap sucker! I saw it yesterday in a neighboring tree- red markings and everything... I guess the little bird that was making the nest in my bird house wasn't the culprit after all! Jeanette, I'm going to keep an eye on the tree, have someone come look at it---but definitely would not want it to fall on the house or the neighbor's house!