My cedar looks like it has little holes drilled into it

Asked April 8, 2016, 8:20 PM EDT

We have a very tall, old cedar in our yard and we just noticed what looks like a bug infestation/disease of some sort. There are what look like little holes drilled into the tree both high and low. A bluish sap-like liquid seems to be oozing out in an effort to repair itself. A friend suggested it looks sort of like the work of a woodpecker Do you know what it is? Is there a remedy?

District of Columbia County District of Columbia cedar tree with sapsucker damage

1 Response

Your cedar tree has been visited by a sapsucker (type of woodpecker). This bird will peck holes in a pattern on the bark for two reasons: First they will ingest some of the sweet sap in order to get their carbohydrates, then they will return later to eat any insects that are drawn to the sap (the insects provide protein). Although the tree will weep for a period of time and, in some cases, the aesthetic appeal is marred, the damage is not likely to harm the tree. In some rare cases, the birds will completely girdle the tree with holes and cause more severe damage or death of part of the tree, but that is rare. No remedy is required, although some people elect to wrap the tree loosely with chicken wire or hardware cloth in order to deny the bird access to the tree.