The Edmond Sun

Garden

October 7, 2005

The twig girdler begins attack on pecan trees

Are twigs falling out of your pecan tree like rain? Well it may not be the Oklahoma wind knocking them down.

It may be a bug called a twig girdler. In late summer, or early football season, the female twig girdler goes looking for juicy-looking branches to girdle.

She will carefully select 3/8 inch diameter branches and notch a perfect “girdled” band around limbs hanging mostly in pecans.

This girdled band cuts off all of the circulation for this limb/twig and causes it to die. The female twig girdler creates a small notch in the dying limb and lays her eggs on it.

During a short time the eggs hatch and the larvae begin to eat the dead wood of the girdled twig.

The larvae will only eat dead wood, so it is necessary for the female beetle to first kill the branch through girdling before laying her eggs.

The eggs are actually deposited on the tip of each branch.

The larvae eat their way up through the middle of the limb over the winter months and into the next summer.

They get bigger and fatter as they go.

The larvae pupate during the summer and then they eat their way out of the twig and fly off to continue torturing other healthy pecan trees.

As you can imagine, after girdling, the limb is likely to break off.

The only thing holding the limb on is a skinny little sticklet of dead wood that snaps like a tooth pick. It just takes a small gust of wind to make that happen.

The twig girdler doesn’t really care if the limb breaks off the tree, the larvae will still hatch and eat the dead twig whether it is on the tree or on not.

It’s sort of like extreme sports for twig girdlers, they hatch from their eggs and take a ride falling 40 feet from the top of a tree attached to a dead twig.

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