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Maple trees more susceptible to borer insects

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Native oaks, maples and certainly those planted by homeowners create a beautiful tapestry on fall foliage, including this scene in northern Arkansas.

Native oaks, maples and certainly those planted by homeowners create a beautiful tapestry on fall foliage, including this scene in northern Arkansas. Insect borers in their larval stage can feed on damaged your favorite maple tree, particularly young or damaged trees, and cause the trees death in just a couple of years. 

Red maples are a preferred landscape tree by many homeowners in the Ozarks, especially in autumn when they usually star in the fall foliage extravaganza.

However, young maple trees are particularly susceptible to bores that may damage or kill young trees, warns Patrick Byers, horticulture specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Springfield.

Insect borers are immature or larval stages of insects that feed on wood. Most bores are attracted to trees that are already weakened through some type of injury. Maple trees under any type of stress are more vulnerable to damage. Damage can show up when an entire section of the tree dies off, causing the tree to weaken and eventually die over a couple of seasons.

Bark over an infested area can be dead and cracking with being visible except under close inspection. Younger trees can be girdled by a root, which causes gradual strangulation, and even larger trees can be injured by losing large areas of bark, sometimes to southern exposure to sunlight.

Adult beetles typically begin emerging in May and lay eggs from June to September. Once trees are infected the larvae can be carefully removed with a sharp knife. Applying insecticides like Sevin or permethrin to the trunk and larger limbs may provide some control.

Because the egg-laying occurs over a long period of time, monthly insecticide applications may be needed over the course of the summer. Careful review of the label of any chemical will advise the homeowner on procedures.= prior to application

“Prune and destroy dying branches, and keep trees healthy and growing vigorously,” says Byers.

For more information, MU Extension has available publication G7190, “Insect Borers of Fruit Trees,” which is available at all online at www.extension.missouri.edu.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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