I have a maple tree that has holes in the trunk running horizontally around...

Asked March 23, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT

I have a maple tree that has holes in the trunk running horizontally around the tree. The holes are about 1/4" diameter and sap is running down the south side of the tree. What is the cause and cure? Will I lose the tree?

Harford County Maryland

1 Response

From your description, the most likely culprit is a sapsucker (woodpecker). These birds will drill holes in selected trees in horizontal patterns. While they actually ingest some of the sap, they are more interested in the insects that are subsequently attracted to the sap. Sapsucker damage is rarely lethal. Very mature lumber trees have sometimes displayed sapsucker damage deep in the heartwood that occurred many years before the tree was felled.
Some people have wrapped poultry wire or hardware cloth around trees to deny access to the birds, but it is not always practical.
LS