What's up with my Oak Trees

Asked June 29, 2020, 8:22 PM EDT

I have 4 oak trees with something odd going on. I attached photos. Not on the hickories, just the Oaks. I did have them trimmed last fall and winter. Check out the 3 pictures anyone know what this is? Bugs? Woodpeckers? Disease? There are little holes about the size of dime or smaller and sticky sap running out of or in the hole.

Oakland County Michigan

3 Responses


Yes, this is likely a borer type insect and woodpeckers will attempt to extract the larvae. The holes are chewed by the insects and sometimes enlarged by woodpeckers searching for them.

Consult a certified arborist, and soon, as oak wilt infection may have occurred because the sap attracts another type insect, a beetle, that carries the disease. Certified arborist professionals have taken training in care, diseases, pests and passed certification tests. He/she will come on site and give a complete diagnosis and a plant care plan. Some boring insects can be successfully controlled by insecticides, depending on which one it is.

I would recommend consulting an oak wilt qualified arborist as there is protocol to follow to prevent further spread. Search for certified arborists by zip code here- www.treesaregood.org

Here is an example of one of the many borer-type insects on oak—


Hello Laura
Thank you for your response
Further investigation included that the trees that have this were trimmed in the fall and winter by a person climbing with boot spikes. It looks like the spikes from the tree climb both left and fight boot spikes. My neighbor also had a few oaks trimmed and only the oaks trimmed using boot spikes have this too.

Any possibility the tree may recover? Thoughts on trees with boot spike damage?

Your tree is open to oak wilt infection because the sap attracts the picnic beetle which carries fungi on its body. Have your trees assessed by a certified arborist with oak wilt experience, perhaps you can share the cost with your neighbor in a package deal.

He/she may recommend you protect trees from oak wilt this next year, if they are not showing any signs. Here are references that explain what symptoms to watch, and how to get the tree diagnosed-



MSU Plant Diagnostic lab can accept samples and confirm oak wilt. See the Samples tab for instructions


Over time the holes will close naturally, like any tree wound or pruned branch. Oak tree wounds need to be treated within minutes of occurring during the growing season. It is too late now to seal them.

Of course, never use that tree service again, as they do not have any education in how to correctly approach a living tree. Tree spikes should only be used on trees that are being removed completely.

Here is a guide to selecting services-https://nfs.unl.edu/documents/communityforestry/Storm%20Damage%202%20-%20How%20to%20Select%20an%20Ar...