Woodpeckers on emerald ash borer ash trees

Editor’s note: This article is from the archives of the MSU Crop Advisory Team Alerts. Check the label of any pesticide referenced to ensure your use is included.    

Ralph Heiden sent me some photographs of an ash tree that show some interesting woodpecker damage. In their quest for tasty emerald ash borer larvae, the birds peeled off the outer most layers of bark leaving splotches of lighter colored bark. I see the same light colored areas on all of the ash trees in my woodlot. This makes it quite easy to spot next year’s firewood.

EAB Ralph Heiden
Photos 1 and 2. Left, woodpecker damage on an EAB-infested ash tree in Jackson County. Right, A close up of the same Jackson County ash tree showing the holes the woodpeckers had drilled looking for EAB larvae. Photo credits: Ralph Heiden, MSUE Jackson County.

Photo 3. Here’s one of my ash trees (southern Ingham County) showing the same type of woodpecker damage. The light colored areas on the bark make it real easy to pick out the dying tree in the woodlot during the winter. Photo credit: Howard Russell, MSU Diagnostic Services.

closeup woodpecker damage
My neighbor had cut down several similarly affected ash trees in his woodlot. This is a close up of a piece of his firewood showing the peeling bark
done by woodpeckers and extensive emerald ash borer galleries where the bark was removed. Photograph by Jan Byrne, MSU Diagnostic Services

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