It was a Flatheaded Apple Borer Day

A Flatheaded Apple Borer sounds like an overenthusiastic, preachy and not so intelligent vegetarian I once knew. But, in reality, the creature is a nasty little worm that tunnels winding holes in the bark of fruit trees (actually it also can be found on madrone, oak and other native species, too.) Today, Poet and pruner, Dan Brewer came to Salmon Creek to teach a class on fruit tree maintenance and he showed us the ugly truth. Below you can see the result of the tiny creature.

Flatheaded Apple Borer hole

Hole caused by damage from a Flatheaded Apple Borer

The insects are usually found on drought or otherwise stressed trees. The larva is yellow white and about an inch long. When Dan pulled one out, he accidentally tore off the head but he sent me to Ram Fishman’s wonderful site to get a drawing.

drawing of flatheaded apple borer

Chrysobothris femorata

According to Lawn and Garden, the adult beetle is about a 1/2 inch long and a metallic dark gray or brown. It lays its eggs in the crevices of tree bark where it hatches as ravenous larvae. There the worm hides from the winter weather, emerging in late spring and begins its cycle again. Although, Dan recommended pruning the site of invasion away when possible, he also showed how to carefully scrape away the damage and use a straightened paper clip to dig out the creature.

Mainly, Dan taught us how to recognize fruit wood and branch wood and where to prune–how to open a tree up. I’m still not sure I can do a great job but I enjoyed myself.

Towards the end, sitting in the warm sunshine made me sleepy. I gathered my youngest and the leftover manicotti from our lunch and slipped away–contented. I learned enough that I can tell a Flatheaded Apple Borer from a dumb vegetarian pest–and that’s enough to keep me happy today.

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