Ash tree and pileated woodpeckers

Asked June 21, 2020, 4:47 PM EDT

My neighbor has an ash tree which she's having treated for ash borer. The woodpeckers have made numerous holes in the tree trunk's bark, and now a swatch of bark is gone, adjacent to the holes, about 4' long and 3-4 inches wide at the widest part. Could the birds have loosened the bark? It looks as though the tree is shedding its bark.

Hennepin County Minnesota

1 Response

It's difficult to diagnose the problem without seeing the tree or sharp photos of the damage.

However, is it possible that emerald ash borers or other boring insects are present despite the treatment to prevent them? We ask because woodpeckers are most likely to visit and dig into trees that are infested. Boring insects or their larvae are the birds' reward for work needed to create holes or remove bark.

If you inspect the damaged area carefully, you may be able to determine whether the bark was loose before woodpeckers visited the tree.

Under the circumstances we suggest that you ask a certified arborist to assess the tree's health onsite and recommend a course of action. Although the person or company that has been treating the tree may be able to do this, a second opinion is warranted.