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Sapsucker Injury

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Sapsucker Injury on Austrian Pine
Sapsucker injury on Austrian pine
(Photo by John Orick, Madison County Extension Educator)

This is a photo of sapsucker injury, or as many of us refer to it as woodpecker injury. Woodpecker injury appears as evenly spaced rows of pits or holes in the trunk of the tree. The size of the holes depend on the species of woodpecker. Trees are often repeatedly attacked. Woodpeckers are forest birds that feed on tree sap, the inner bark of trees, and the insects that get caught in the sap flowing from wounds on the trunk. Some species feed on other insects, vegetable matter, berries, fruit, nuts, and seeds.

Woodpeckers are classified as migratory, nongame birds and are protected by the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Therefore, it is illegal to kill a wood-pecker without a permit issued by the Law Enforcement Division of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Control often comes down to using scaring techniques and devices. These include the use of mylar flashing tape, aluminum foil strips, reflective wind chimes, eye-spot balloons and hawk silhouettes placed near the affected tree. Another strategy is to use a barrier. Wrap 1/4 inch hardward cloth, plastic mesh, or burlap around injured areas to discourage further damage.

For more information on woodpeckers and their management, please refer to the publication, ADM-5 Woodpeckers (PDF 149K) or contact USDA Nuisance Wildlife Information Hotline at 1-800-893-4116 or 765-765-496-3968 or visit the web site at http://www.entm.purdue.edu/wildlife/wild.htm.

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Last updated: 21 August 2001/tlm.
The Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory at Purdue University.