Korean Lilac tree - something eating/stripping the bark off of branches

Asked November 13, 2017, 11:49 AM EST

I'm finding that several braches on this small tree have stripped bark. The bark seems to be taken or eaten in strips that can follow along a branch anywhere from 1 to 6 inches long and seem to follow a path on one side only of the branch, usually the top of it. The main trunk of the tree hasn't been disturbed. Only the upper bigger branches seem to be the target. I have noticed a woodpecker landing in the tree as a hanging finch feeder is close by but I haven't seen or heard it pecking at the tree. I also haven't noticed any bugs on the branches either and wondering what could survive our cold temps. Should I spray the tree to kill bugs that might be there under the bark and will it hurt the tree since much of the bark has recently been stripped probably within the last two weeks? What can I do to discourage the woodpecker if you suspect that is the problem?., .

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

Hi, I suspect an animal, probably a squirrel, rather than insects or the woodpecker. When woodpeckers peck, they have usually detected insects under the bark...and you're not seeing that. Deer, especially young deer, can also strip bark when they rub their growing antlers on the tree. I don't think it's rabbits or voles since the trunk isn't involved and they can't reach the branches. I wouldn't spray since we don't know what's there. You can try wrapping the affected branches with chicken wire or plastic tubing to deter the critter. If the stripping is not too drastic, the tree should survive. Here's some additional information: https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/oak/brancheschewed.html