Animal Damage - Sapsucker Damage

The yellow-bellied sapsucker is a woodpecker that can cause damage to many species of trees by boring 1/4 inch holes in vertical and horizontal rows through the bark of tree trunks and limbs. As these holes fill with sap, the bird uses its brush-like tongue to draw out the sap. Enlargement of these holes by later borings allows cambium, inner bark and more sap to be eaten. Such repeated attacks can girdle and kill branches or the entire tree. Insects, porcupines, or squirrels may be attracted to the oozing sap and cause additional injury. Wood decay or stain fungi and bacteria may enter through the feeding wounds. To discourage sapsucker feeding on a yard tree, wrap hardware cloth or burlap around the tapped area, or smear on a sticky repellent such as bird tanglefoot. Tree Guard is another repellent that can be sprayed on the tapped area. Remember that they may choose another nearby tree for future tapping. It may be better to sacrifice the tapped and already damaged tree in favor of the loss of another tree due to future tapping damage.