The sapsucker is a bird that drills holes in rows or rings around the trunks of your trees - especially young live oaks. Do they hurt anything? You bet they do. Sometimes called a woodpecker, the beautiful red-headed sapsucker is lovely to look at but a real menace.
When a tree is in stress, the sugars concentrate to help fight infirmities and to help repair injuries. Certain animals like the sapsucker can detect that. We know this from research at the USDA's Northwest Forest Experiment Station. This theory is also backed up by Lawrence Kilhan in his book Woodpeckers of Eastern North America.
QUESTION: I have two ornamental pear trees that are more than 17 years old. I recently noticed four rows of almost perfect holes, one row on top of the other, on one of the tree trunks. I have heard woodpecker sounds, but I also worry that I may have insect pests. G.M., Sherman
ANSWER: Sapsuckers are woodpeckers that drill holes in rows and columns. They are seeking concentrated sugars that accumulate in stressed trees.
Even if your trees look healthy, the bird damage indicates that the trees need help. Use my Sick Tree Treatment.