What is attacking my lace leaf red maple?

Asked September 25, 2020, 5:08 PM EDT

We had this maple for about 25 years. As the leaves started to drop this year we saw damaged bark and have no idea what it is. It is in a fenced yard so not sure if it’s an animal eating or rubbing the bark. I’m attaching a picture or two

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

This is the time of year that deer rub their antlers on trunks and scrape off bark. Unless your fence is 6-8 feet high, it will not stop them. Fencing the individual tree with wire mesh might help.

However, the second photo looks like the damage is on the top of the branches, not the sides as deer rubbing would usually be. It's possible this is squirrel feeding or gnawing. Squirrels are somewhat unpredicatable and we would not be surprised if it were squirrels. There is no action you can take.

Keep the tree watered well through fall and it may recover fairly well next spring. You'll be able to assess the result of the damage better then.