UPDATE 9/2019 – We see twig girdlers every year, so we thought it’d be a good idea to cover them again! While this post is directed toward Frisco, we are seeing them all over the Metroplex.
Dear Frisco Arborist,
Why are little clumps of leaves falling off my trees and making a mess of my yard?
Texas Tree Surgeons is proud to call North Texas home, and we want to answer questions asked by residents of our communities. Here, a real Frisco Arborist answers a common question this time of year.
As we move out of the heat of Summer and into Fall, many changes can be seen in our North Texas Trees. We begin to see leaves fall from many of our trees. Live oaks, however, generally keep their leaves until the Spring, when they exchange them for new growth. While Frisco, Texas, may not get the dramatic colors of other areas of the country, the variety of trees can still make for an interesting Fall change.
At Texas Tree Surgeons, our Frisco arborists have been getting questions about clumps of twigs and leaves falling from trees of all species. These leaves and twigs are dropping too early for Fall, and can begin to accumulate in yards. Concerned for the health of their trees, homeowners turn to the Frisco tree professionals.
While squirrel damage may account for some of the leaf and twig drops, there is another explanation for a lot of the damage we see: twig girdlers.
What is a twig girdler?
“Twig girdler” is the common name for several longhorn beetles in the genus Oncideres. Twig girdlers can target any tree species. In late Summer and early Fall, the adult twig girdlers appear in preparation for the mating season. Once they have mated, the female beetles begin their preparations for laying eggs.
Female twig girdler beetles feed on the tender shoots and bark of young tree growth and lay their eggs in the small segments at the ends of branches The beetles also remove a notch of bark around the circumference of twigs in which their eggs are laid. The notch around the twig causes it to die, and it falls to the ground with any leaves attached to it. The eggs hatch in a few days and the beetle larvae live in the fallen twig, eating the plant material throughout the winter. In the spring, the young beetles finish their growth and the adults emerge in the summer, ready for the life cycle to begin again.
What can I do about twig girdlers?
For Frisco tree owners, there are a few options for controlling twig girdlers:
- Once the twigs have fallen, gather up and destroy
- Keep monitoring trees during the winter and dispose of any fallen tree material
- Contact a Frisco arborist for Plant Health Care treatment options
- Often, there is a pesticide application in the Spring to control larvae and one in the Summer or Fall to control the adults
What if it’s something else?
Twig girdlers are not the only cause of unseasonable leaf and twig drop. While Frisco arborists often see twig drop from girdlers, squirrels can also cause similar damage. At Texas Tree Surgeons, we offer a full range of Plant Health Care programs that are tailored to your particular tree and what is affecting it. We are always happy to have one of our certified arborists in Frisco come out and take a look at what is causing your tree to drop twigs.
While we can treat for many of the causes of twig damage, sorry, but we don’t offer a squirrel repellent.