What's wrong with this birch?

Discussion in 'Landscape Maintenance' started by mowinginva, Jul 9, 2009.

  1. mowinginva

    mowinginva LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 440

    Here are pics. What do you think is wrong w/ this birch and what could be done to remedy it? Thanks



  2. mowinginva

    mowinginva LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 440

    More pics.


  3. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,746

    Top 2 photo's are Shothole Borer exit wounds or the Bronze Birch Borer.
    3rd photo is of natural Betula fruiting process.. HMMM!
    4th photo is beetle damage. Feeding at night on the foliage
    5th photo is the staining effects of the borer damage. The tree is sapping from the exit wounds. General fertilizer around the drip zone and keep up adequate water. These trees will sap easily under minimal damages. The vigor of this tree has to be kept intact, as the Betula loves moist conditions.
    Look for the drench solution of Imidichlorpirid and treat around the base of the tree. It is too late for the new ones that have hatched. The borer will mate and return to this tree and lay eggs again. With the basal drench, you will want to do it soon as it will take about 2-4 weeks for the roots to absorb the chemical and translocate. Do a soil drench once now, and do another next spring before now!!!!

    Do a little research on the bronze birch borer and see what is available in your location or by your extension services.
  4. Whitey4

    Whitey4 LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,448

    Darn good post.... bronze birch borer it is, IMO also. Damage is pretty bad, but a good systemic soil drench might save it. Remove any branches that are soft, moist and easilly break off.
  5. Think Green

    Think Green LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,746

    After reading this post and responding to the problem, I had a call today about the same problems that your tree is having. This is ironic because it is not a common call for us. After speaking with this customer and viewing their Betula Nigra, I began to recall some of the bad things that will happen if these trees are severely damaged. In your photo, you did not include any crown or limb pictures to fully diagnose the problem...!!
    Is the tree in the picture dropping foliage and having crown dieback??
    If your tree is having these symptoms, then the borer's have done more damage than desired. I needed to elaborate a little more on the severity of the damage. Once the adult lays the eggs in cracks or in hidden areas behind the bark, the larvae will hatch and chew through the outer paper of the tree. The damage is sustained to the Xylem and the phloem layers where the upward and downward sap and nutrient transportation occurs within a tree. Multiple holes and damage to the base of the tree, after long periods of attack, will slowly depleat all the essential nutrients from this tree.
    If the tree has sustained 50% or more crown damage, then cut it down and replant another species of Betula that is tolerant of the bronze birch borer. Moreover, the health of any plant helps to eliminate the chances of insect attacks but sometimes a hungry insect will eat anything.

    Here are some Highly tolerant Betula trees!

    Moderately tolerant trees!
  6. mowinginva

    mowinginva LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 440

    Thanks a lot for the detailed info, 'Think Green'.
  7. integrityman

    integrityman LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,713

    You may want to fertilize it good with a soil fertlizer injector.
  8. phasthound

    phasthound LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,161

    Bronze Birch Borers are quite common here. These insects generally attack trees that are declining due to environmental stresses. A healthy tree is rarely attacked by them. Treating for borers is usaully not going to solve the problem. After many years of performing insecticide applications on thousands of birches, I cannot say that I have saved a single one that had borers. Prolonged the life for a couple of years, maybe.

    If the tree is newly infested and properly treated, other cultural methods are required for a longer lasting tree. Prune any dead and dying branches. Remove any soil and mulch from touching the trunk, excavate until the trunk flare is visible. Remove grass from under the dripline & replace with a 3" layer of compost, being careful not pile it against the bark. Water deeply once a week, these trees prefer moisture especially if planted in full sun (where it shouldn't be in the first place).

    Again, just treating for this pest will not solve the problem. Borers are there to finish of an unhealthy tree.

    After taking another look at the photos, you will be removing that tree. It's just a question of when. Sorry.

    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  9. mowinginva

    mowinginva LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 440

    Thanks for the info. I don't think the customer's against removing the tree.
    BTW, I used to live in Hainesport, NJ, but didn't have a lawn business til I moved down here to VA.
  10. JNyz

    JNyz LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,087

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