How To Protect Your Trees From Woodpecker Damage

Posted on: 8 July 2015

The knock of a woodpecker can be one of the lovely sounds of nature when you're walking in the woods, but it can cause some worry if you hear it on your own property. That's because woodpeckers can damage your landscape trees as they bore for insects. This damage can weaken trees, leaving them open to disease and insect infestation. The following guide can help you prevent this damage to your trees.

Perform a Tree Health Check

A woodpecker hammering on your tree's trunk can sometimes indicate that there's an insect infestation already. Keep in mind that woodpeckers peck tree trunks for a variety of reasons, such as to attract potential mates or to get sap, so it doesn't always mean there is a problem. The quickest way to find out if insects are the cause is to check the health of the tree.

Some common signs of insect infestation include chewed or damaged leaves, weak growth, and dieback. You may also see galls on the branches or the underside of leaves, or fungal growth on foliage and branches. This is because fungus  and mold is often attracted to the sticky substance called honeydew that is excreted by feeding insects. If you find an insect problem on your tree, you will need to bring in a tree service company (such as L and M Tree Service). They can accurately identify the pests and begin treatment. Once the bugs are gone, the woodpecker will also likely leave. 

Get Sticky

If the woodpecker isn't nesting in the tree and it isn't feeding on insects, then it's likely hammering holes to communicate with other nearby birds or to reach the sweet sap inside your tree. You may be able to discourage the bird from landing in your tree with a commercial sticky product. These products are made to be spread on the tree trunk. Woodpeckers don't like the sticky feeling on their feet, so they won't land on the trunk anymore. You will need to reapply the substance when the stickiness wears off.

If You Can't Beat 'Em, Scare 'Em

Bird scare devices will sometimes work to frighten off a woodpecker. Try stringing mylar "bird" tape in the branches. This tape blows in the breeze and flashes in the light, which may startle a woodpecker. Devices that make noise or move in response to motion may also work. As a final scare tactic, try placing a hawk or owl decoy in or near the tree. The woodpecker may recognize the predator and decide to hammer elsewhere.