Protecting Pecans, Red Oaks and Blackjacks from the Flatheaded Appletree Borer

In recent months, our arborists have noticed an increase in disease in pecans, red oaks and blackjacks. This is partially due to infestations by the flatheaded appletree borer (Chrysobothris femorata).

Photo: Joseph Berger,

Flatheaded Appletree Borer

The flatheaded appletree borer is an opportunistic pest that targets weakened or stressed trees. Eggs are laid in cracks in the tree bark in the late spring to summer. When the eggs hatch, the larvae tunnel into the tree, feeding on the cambial tissue. This creates galleries between the bark and the wood. The galleries along with the waste deposited by the larvae damage the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients through the cambial tissue.

Photo: James Solomon,

Damage and Detection

Damage caused by the flatheaded appletree borer affects the ability of the tree to thrive and grow. The more weakened a tree is at the point of infestation, the less likely the tree can defend against it, which can result in complete decline of the tree.

Signs of infestation might include:

  • Dead branches
  • Branch dieback
  • Increased disease
  • Sunken areas

What You Can Do

Proper plant health care is the most important means of managing tree disease. This includes seasonal fertilization, proper year-round irrigation practices and the removal of dead branches.

The removal of dead branches is particularly important to the management of a flatheaded appletree borer infestation. This will reduce the number of larvae embedded within the tree, allowing the tree to better utilize its resources to fight disease.

Krista White

Krista White

Krista is a member of the marketing and education team at Tree Shepherds. A lifelong learner, she loves writing about anything from Hemingway to Quercus macrocarpa.