River Birch in Front Yard is Dropping Leaves at Top Along with Small Diameter Branches

Asked August 5, 2017, 7:34 PM EDT

I might as well start with you, and then let you re-direct, if necessary. If at all possible, can you look at the image attached and let me know What you think? The tree is approximately 25 years old and has started to lose leaves at the top and drop up to 2” diameter branches. Certainly not a good sign! Any ideas what is wrong and is there something I can do? Thank you very much, Barry Comer Louisville

Jefferson County Kentucky trees and shrubs river birch

1 Response

The bronze birch borer may be the problem. These borers as adults are winged insects with flat heads. The larvae are responsible for interior damage to the tree. D shaped holes are made by emerging adults and these holes are a sign that the insect has been present. Symptoms of borer damage is thinning crowns and branch death as the insects damage the internal vascular system of the tree. A certified arborist can determine if the tree has an infestation by examining the plant on site.

Spraying twice in the spring can help control future damage, but nothing can be done to stop the feeding of larvae that may be present in the tree now.

Timing and detailed information on borer control of trees in KY is here:

Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!

Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
200 Juneau Drive

Louisville KY 40243