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Problem solving

What is eating my cooking apple tree?

Hope someone will be able to help me, I have been recommended this forum for advice. About 6inches from the base of my 4yr old tree I noticed a hole (best described as if the bark had been ripped off) with lots of what look like red pellets at the top of

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Alina W

Any chance of a photo? The "pellets" in your description mystify me, unless it's a type of mould/fungus.

I have attached a couple of photos, I hope that helps.  The 'pellets' I think are munched up tree that are being spat out rather than fungus as when I touch them they fall to the ground.

BobTheGardener

If that is ordinary grass at the bottom, I would guess the trunk is about an inch or so in diameter?  Just trying to gauge the size of the wound.  It looks to me as though something has gnawed away part of the bark (eg rabbits, or deer if it is a larger tree than I have guessed.)  The red stuff is probably resin produced by the tree in response to the wound - cherries can produce quite a lot of that.  What worries me is that there seems to be a gap between the wood of the trunk inside and the bark, and the dark colour of the trunk wood (which I would expect to be creamy white, or grey on an older wound.)  That could all point to a fungal attack f some kind, as Alina mentions.  

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Alina W

I don't know what it is - looks too big for rabbits - but what you need to do is get yourself some chicken wire and wrap it around the tree trunk. I think it's an animal, and the wire should stop it chewing before it does any more damage. At the moment, the missing bark and hole are small enough for your tree to recover.

Alina W

Forgot to say - tie the wiore firmly with wire top and bottom, so it can't be moved. You'll be able to get rid of it by the end of summer, when the offending creature should have forgotten about it. I have seen cats do this sort of thing, but not usually chew a hole.

Alina W

I wish edit worked! That should be "tie the chicken wire firmly"

Thanks for the great response but I am pretty definite that its not animals as I have a terrier (she is a rat and rabbit catcher) who lives outdoors.  I will however try out the wire suggestion.  I think its more likey to be an insect or beetle.  The tree is just over 2 inches in diameter so the hole is about half the thickness of the tree and depth of the hole now runs both up and down inside the trunk for about 4inches.  My biggest concern is that it is a parasite that will affect my other trees.  My first thought was to dig up the whole tree and burn it!  I am hoping that that won't be the case?

Alina W

Ah, if there is a big hole inside that may well be some sort of beetle, although that may not have made the original hole. If you are sure that the hole is empty, try sealing it with something that has a very fine mesh instead, e.g., the mesh from an old sieve, and see if that stops it getting worse.

Thanks, I shall try that but I have a feeling the creature is still making a home in my tree as there is more munched up red tree pellets each day I go an look.

BobTheGardener

Hi Nicole, With the extra info, especially the speed of the attack, I think you are right and you probably have a borer grub at work there.  Try a google for "apple tree borer" which may give you some ideas on ways to treat it.  Some of the google images look very similar to your photo's.  If you don't get it soon and it eats it's way around the circumference of the trunk, the tree will die. 

Thank you everso much, I shall get researching borer grubs.

Dovefromabove

That may be bad news for your tree, but fascinating nevertheless - I shall store that bit of info in case I come across a hole in a fruit tree again!  Good luck with saving your tree 

Yesterday I did some tree excavating, in search of some sort of borer.  45 mins later and 26cm of tree damage I found the culprits.  Two very fat looking borers.  Having done some more research I originally thought they were apple tree borers but they have got black dots on their bodies and all the images I have found were of plain cream bodies. Fingers crossed my tree will now survive.  Thanks very much for all your help. Enjoy the photos!

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Alina W

You might like to think about staking your tree firmly with a stake that comes well above the hole. The hole will be weakening the trunk, and you don't want it to snap.

Thanks for the advice about staking.

I have also found out what the bugs are....<span class="yiv1365101254st"><span style="color: #1f497d;">Zeuzera pyrina<span style="color: #1f497d;">(Leopard moth) which <span style="color: #1f497d;">isn’t a notifiable pest and is<span style="color: #1f497d;"> widespread in the UK (mainly in the southern England and South Wales)<span style="color: #1f497d;">which<span style="color: #1f497d;"> feeds on a range of <span style="color: #1f497d;">deciduous trees.

<span style="color: #1f497d; font-family: 'sans-serif'; font-size: 11pt;"> So it seems that they are nothing unusual, thanks for all the suggestions and help.

Oh dear, I have no idea what has happened to my text above!  Sorry

BobTheGardener

Excellent work in both digging them out and identifying as Leopard Moth grubs, Nicole!  As it is a relatively young tree it will probably heal itself with bark eventually growing over the damage.  As Alina says, best to stake it to prevent wind damage, now trunk has been weakened at that point.

Copy and paste from web pages doesn't work well on this site - if you paste into Notepad first, then copy from there, it will work as expected.

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