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Twig Pruner

Twig Pruner Twigs that experience dieback may develop yellow, red, or brown foliage. Discoloration begins in July after the beetle larvae have mined the pith of the affected twigs. Damage may be mistaken for that caused by adult cedar bark beetles, but the juniper twig pruner creates a distinct, round boring tunnel though the center of each dying twig. Adult juniper twig pruners have the typical long-horned beetle form cylindrical, slender, and slightly flattened bodies and are about 7–11 mm 0.27 – 0.43 in long.

Twig Pruner

Twig Pruner

They are brownish to black in color with reddish orange heads. They have narrow, tapered wing covers that only partially cover the abdo¬men. Larvae are small, white, legless, and cylindrical with round heads. Several of the body segments directly behind the head are somewhat larger in diameter.

In the larval stage, both the twig girdler and twig pruner are creamy white in color and up to 2 inches in length. They look like typical roundheaded borers in that their heads and bodies are cylindrical in shape and they have legs that are reduced to very small claws. The adult twig girdler is about 5/8 inch long and has a pair of long antennae. The color is brown with irregular patches of fine gray hairs and the antennae are spines on the segments closest to the head.

Life Cycle : The adult beetle is about one half of an inch long, slender, grayish-yellow, with long antennae. It has spines on the first few joints of the antennae and at the tips of the elytra.

During the spring, about the time of budding and new growth, adult beetles start to emerge. The adult female will chew a hole in the bark at a leaf axil near a twig tip and there lay an egg. The larva bores into the twig and feeds on the wood as it tunnels toward the base of the twig.

Twig Pruner

Twig Pruner

When full-grown late summer, the larva begins to make concentric cuts through the wood outward from the center and usually stops chewing at the thin bark layer. The larva moves back into the severed portion of the twig. Shortly thereafter, an infested branch, which can range in diameter from 1/2 inch to 2 inches, usually breaks and falls to the ground. During the fall, small branches with smooth, concave cuts accumulate under infested trees. The larva will continue to feed for a time but will overwinter as a pupa in the fallen twig or branch. Twig pruners produce one generation a year.

Habitat and Food Source: Mouthparts are for chewing. Pecan twig girdlers attack citrus, elm, hackberry, hickory, huisache, mimosa, pecan, persimmon, red oak, retama, tepehuaje, Texas ebony, walnut and various fruit trees. Twigs selected by female beetles to girdle range in diameter from 9-12 mm. Severe girdling can disfigure trees. Damage appears mainly in late summer and fall when adult beetles are active. Leaves on the girdled branches turn die and fall, and the branches often fall from the tree during high winds and storms. Beetles are not commonly encountered on trees. They are attracted to lights.

Damage : These beetles cause very conspicuous damage in late summer. The leaves on large numbers of twigs and branches will be observed to turn brown prematurely. These twigs and branches sometimes fall from trees in great numbers and accumulate. On close examination, the twigs have one of two kinds of damage. Twigs damaged by the twig girdler are cut as neatly as by a knife. The cut end has been gnawed almost straight across with a faint rounding and is slightly roughened by the chewing. The twig girdler is more commonly found on pecan and hickory. The twig pruner causes a slightly different type of cut. The twig will be observed to have a hollowed out space at the cut end filled with sawdust like frass. The twig when split open will have a long tunnel through most of its length. The twig pruner is more commonly found on oak.

Twig Pruner

Twig Pruner

Management: Since the twig cutter larva is in the twig when it falls from the tree, gathering and burning of the girdled twigs is the most satisfactory means of preventing further damage. This control works provided it is thoroughly done and extended some distance in the surrounding area. This form of control, however, is of limited value if the trees are growing adjacent to wood lots, where these girdlers are abundant, but should still be practiced. Spraying has not shown much promise for control of these species.

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