Tuesday, January 24, 2012

War on the Sapsuckers! Save the Loquat!

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker
Is this not a charming little birdie?  Lots of stripes, perky little red head?  Scrabbles up and down the sides of the tree trunks like a feathered monkey?

My Beloved Loquat Tree
Good thing this little sucker - Yellow Bellied Sapsucker, to be exact -is protected or I'd blow him right out of my Loquat tree.  There has been a pair of them working on my poor Loquat tree nonstop in the mild weather.  The sap is flowing in the Loquat, which is evergreen and the sapsuckers adore that sweet sap.

If they did minor damage, I'd tolerate them because they are so personable.  But take a look at what they have managed in the last couple of weeks, while my back was turned:

 They have girdled several of the main trunks with their drillings.  The "wet" that you see in the photo is freely running tree sap - my poor Loquat is literally hemorrhaging sap from the wounds.

Notice in the closeup that there is no area with enough vertical undamaged bark left to keep the phloem moving sap.  They may have already killed this tree.

In desperation, as a quick arbor triage, I've done what I could - I melted all the leftover scented holiday candles we were given that never got burned (heaven save me from Yankee Candles) and brushed the melted wax in many layers over the damaged trunk areas, filling in the holes as best I could.  The watery sap kept some of the holes slightly open, but at least the major open wounds are protected from further damage - from sapsuckers, insects, fungus and worse.

It looks pretty shabby, poor beautiful tree.

I hope this is going to help it.

It reeks, too, in the most amazing fashion - part "Holiday Pine"and part "Christmas in Paris".  Maybe the scent alone will drive the horrible (formerly adorable) Sapsuckers away.  Heaven knows it should keep insects at bay but who knows?

Tree wrap has been ordered and is on the way.

I wonder if Sapsucker tastes like quail?

Sadly,   Sybil


  1. NOOOOOOoooooo!!!!!!! I can't believe the amount of damage those sapsuckers did to your favorite loquat! Fingers crossed that your quick first aid treatment nurses your tree back to health. If there is any humor in this, it certainly is contained in the last line of your post!

    Let us know how the tree does in the coming weeks and months...

  2. Thanks, my friend. I am truly distressed. I can't believe how quickly the birds tore this tree up. Easy to know why, I tried the leaking sap and it was quite sweet. I'll bet the sapsuckers are hell on sugar maple plantations. Tree wrap has been ordered and I'll post photos after I get the tree safely wrapped. Meanwhile, I discovered that the little buggers had also damaged the two younger loquats. On the feeble plus side, my hands look professionally manicured after being plastered with warm wax for several hours....

    I just don't know if the damage is going to be too extensive for the tree to survive when it moves into full growth mode in warmer weather. Wish me luck!


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