Tree damage caused by rabbits
Tree damage caused by squirrels

Gnawed branches, stripped bark and clipped twigs are all possible indications of animal damage. The type of damage varies, depending on what’s harming the tree. Much of the damage occurs during the winter months, when food becomes scarce or plant material is needed for nesting or burrowing. 

Rodents, such as rabbits and mice cause damage around the base of a tree, by gnawing on a tree’s trunk or roots. Feeding is generally no more than two feet above ground, at snow level or below the snow. Although small, these critters can eventually cause size reduction in a tree or general health decline.  Control methods include chemical repellents, hardware cloth and tree wrap. Squirrels are another rodent that can become a nuisance and cause tree damage. Because squirrels can climb, the damage they can cause is more widespread. Clipping, gnawing and stripping limbs and bark may occur throughout the tree. Unfortunately, squirrels are much more difficult to control. KTS does offer a repellent that is professionally applied and offers relief for many homeowners.

Tree damage caused by deer


Rodents aren’t the only animals that cause problems for area homeowners. Deer, especially in the Chicago suburbs, can cause extensive plant damage. Damage caused by deer occurs throughout the year, but in the winter, a hungry deer can consume up to four pounds of woody twigs a day. Because food is harder to obtain in the cold months, a tree may become their meal. Male deer also cause tree damage during mating season, when they rub their antlers against young trees. Both situations cause tree dieback, depending on the extent of the damage. Control methods include fencing, cages and chemical repellents. Unfortunately, control success is varied and often short term.

Sapsucker bird

The Sapsucker bird is found in the Chicago area and causes headaches for many local residents.  A member of the Woodpecker family, the Sapsucker often finds a favorite tree and returns to the same tree year after year, possibly twice a year. This is usually in April and again in September or October. The Sapsucker pecks holes in a tree’s trunk or branches, in a horizontal circle around the trunk or vertical side-by-side rows. Because holes are often the indication of Emerald Ash Borer or another tree boring insect, proper identification is very important. If the Sapsucker pecks too many holes, tree girdling may occur and portions of the tree will die.  Wrap hardware cloth or burlap around the damaged area, to help prevent further tree damage.

Local wildlife is enjoyable to watch, but not when landscape or property damage is occurring. Sometimes that damage is minimal and doesn’t require interference. It’s when the damage becomes extensive that action is needed.

Contact the Plant Health Care Department at KTS for more information on controlling tree damage caused by animals. We also offer the services of Certified Arborists that can properly identify the cause of the damage.

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