Industry News: Bark and Trunk Concerns

Q: What are some reasons why woodpeckers would peck at our trees?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016  

Q: We live next to woods and have six trees. We have noticed that there are certain woodpeckers that are just pecking the bark off the trees like crazy. When they peck, the bark goes flying, and there are bark pieces all over the ground. Are these trees dead? Is that why the birds are pecking them, or will they survive all the pecking? We have been living here for about 35 years, and never have we seen anything like this. Some of trees look like they are completely stripped of their bark. I guess I am curious if they are dead or will survive. We live in West Bend, Wisconsin.

A: The woodpeckers are looking for insects that may be residing on the exterior or interior of the tree. Most of the insects are not physically damaging the tree. However, when we see woodpeckers causing major damage to a tree as you have described, as an arborist we are concerned that there may be a larger underlying issue. This issue is usually associated with one of two things:

  1. The tree is dying and insects are feeding on the dead or decaying tissue.
  2. There is a major insect infestation in the trees. Emerald Ash Borer would be a good example of this.

My recommendation would be to have a ISA Certified Arborist or a arborist associated with the ASCA visit the property and diagnose the problem. If this is not possible, send us a email that includes pictures of the trees and the site as well as the type of tree you are having issues with (e.g., ash, oak, maple).


Responder: Matt Evans, RCA #522, Lenexa, KS