Trees With Holes: Causes, Hollow Effect & Fixes

Whether you’re faced with a hollow in your trees or tiny holes on it, all such situations can be worrisome as they can affect tree health.

We’ll be discussing the causes of holes in trees as well as appropriate fixes to cover such holes. This will prove highly beneficial to the overall well-being of your trees.

What Causes Holes In Trees?

Some hollows can be significant as well as holes. Both of these have to do with the creation of unnecessary spaces on your trees. Holes are much tinier than hollows and will be our main focus.

However, before we move forward, we’ll also be adding some information on the causes of tree hollows.

  • Insects

The causes of holes in your trees could partly be due to insect activity.

These insects are borers who bore through your trees to lay their eggs. These holes can be very tiny or a bit larger depending on the size and type of insect.

Now, the most notorious of these include bark beetles, clearwing moths, dogwood borer, banded ash borer, lilac borer, peachtree borer, flathead appletree borer, bronze birch borer, and lesser peachtree borer.

Others include red oak borer, redheaded ash borer, locust borer, cottonwood borer, twig girdler, southern pine beetles, and shothole borers among others.

All of these pests drill through your precious trees for a variety of reasons.

The targets for most tree borers are weak or stressed-out trees. Tree weakness and stress are mostly caused by pruning injuries, insufficient water supply as well as environmental stress among others.

The Larger the Insect, the Bigger the Holes

Whenever insects drill through trees, they leave holes behind. Now, the size of these holes will depend on the size of the insects.

As expected, larger insects drill bigger holes and vice versa. Your trees suffer over the long term as such holes in both bark and sap affect and hinder the transportation of food and water.

So, you want to take action whatever the size of the hole is.

We’ll be discussing shortly the various fixes to implement whenever you find these holes on your tree.

  • Birds

Birds aren’t left out of the party when it comes to excavating holes in trees.

These birds either target dead trees or the dead limbs of living trees. The goal is to create a nesting cavity in which they can lay and hatch their eggs.

Birds known for this digging activity include woodpeckers and northern flickers. In the case of woodpeckers, different species are known to be active diggers or excavators of wood.

These include red-bellied woodpeckers, downy, red-headed, and pileated woodpeckers.

The action by birds in excavating a tree won’t do much damage to the tree itself. However, the problem lies in the injuries inflicted on the trees.

Such injuries are points through which diseases, as well as other destructive insects, can enter the tree.

What Causes Hollows?

Hollows are common occurrences on some trees. These are cavities that could have a wider space within.

Hollows may be formed due to natural causes and are mostly found on tree trunks.

A hollow may result from a tree dropping its withered or dead limb.

Space previously occupied by the dead limb becomes a point through which this cavity might form. Hollows serve as homes a variety of wild creatures including birds. Such cavity-nesting birds include tree swallows, eastern bluebirds, eastern screech-owls, and American Kestrel.

Others include white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, purple martins, and house wrens. This isn’t much of a problem compared to other types of holes in trees.

The Effects

The sustained boring activity results in multiple holes which eventually takes its toll on trees. You may begin to notice some browning which eventually worsens and leads to the death of such trees.

It’s necessary to take appropriate measures immediately such holes are noticed.

Fixing Holes On Trees

Having discussed the many causes of tree holes, it’s necessary to shift our attention to how such holes can be fixed.

There are several ways to achieve this. One of them involves patching up the hole in patching up a tree hole, use screening, or a thin metal flap. Covering this with some plaster will serve the purpose.

The aim is to prevent any birds or animals from getting access to the hole. When this is done, the tree can heal up and cover the hole. To prepare the hole for treatment, remove any water or rotted softwood.

Be careful not to remove any hardwood as you may be causing further problems.

  • Other Ways To Treat Holes

There are other ways to fix holes in your trees.

For this to be possible, get a tarp, silicon caulking compound, wood scraper, and expandable polyurethane foam.

You’ll need to place a tarp above the hole to keep out water. This can be done after or before filling the hole with silicone caulking.

Such tarp can be removed after the silicone caulk gets dried.

Another method involves the application of expandable polyurethane foam. However before this is done, consider scrapping the deadwood out.

Calling An Arborist

When holes are detected on your trees, it’s best to call an arborist.

This is the best strategy to adopt as they inspect the problem and determine its causes. These causes are treated and preventive measures implemented to forestall a repetition.

Sometimes, it’s okay not to do anything as long as the holes are small. However, you may want to find a solution to the continued boring activity of insects. Stopping them early will save your trees from further damage.

Discuss any concerns you have about this problem with your arborist for professional recommendations. You stand a better chance of eliminating these tree-boring insects with the help of a professional.

The causes of holes in trees are many. These holes are symptoms of pest activity. As such, it will do well to find immediate solutions.

We’ve provided some of the common fixes for holes in trees. Try any of these today.

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