woodpecker (sap sucker) damage to holly tree

Asked July 10, 2019, 4:53 PM EDT

We have a 45 year old holly tree that has suffered from repeated woodpecker (sap sucker) drilling over the years. It now appears the tree is flagging in the crown above the areas where the drilling has been the most extensive. Below that point the tree seems to be doing fine. I have tried wrapping the drilled areas in burlap, used duck tape, etc, and most recently hung some owl like reflectors as a way to discourage the woodpeckers. I have contacted several tree companies to come take a look but I am concerned that most of their work is in tree removal. How do I find someone who can provide a remedial program rather than a removal approach. Does DC have a Department of Agriculture extension agent? Or is their someone at the Arboretum I can talk to? Thanks for any help you can provide.

District of Columbia County District of Columbia

1 Response

The person you are looking for is a tree health expert called a certified arborists.
Certified arborists are credentialed by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA).
They are not just tree cutters. Most larger tree companies have them on staff or you can search for one at www.treesaregood.org.

You might not need one though. If you'd like to send us photos of the tree and the damage we could take a look and perhaps have suggestions for you. It is possible that the damage has girdled, or disrupted the bark enough (especially if it goes all the way around) that it is having trouble pushing water through to the top. However, if the base looks good, the top could die back, be removed and you'd still have your tree.
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