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How to Protect Young Pecan Trees From Borers

By James Young ; Updated September 21, 2017

The flatheaded apple tree borer attacks pecan trees as well as apples and damages stressed or newly planted pecan saplings. Proper care of new pecan trees, including irrigation and fertilization, will help the trees resist infestations. Machine damage from mowers could create an entry point for boring insects, and any dead wood left on the tree in the springtime could perpetuate the cycle of infection. Extra protection in the early years prevents insect injuries which could severely damage or kill the pecan tree.

Wrap the trunks of newly transplanted pecan trees with overlapping layers of heavy parcel wrapping paper. Tie the paper in place with garden twine, and leave the wrap on the tree for the first two years. Tie the twine loosely to avoid girdling the tree.

Mix carbaryl insecticide according to the manufacturer's directions, and spray exposed areas of the tree's base, trunk and major branches. Apply this preventive solution at three week intervals during the growing season, beginning in early May when the first pests emerge.

Check trees for borer damage during the growing season. Look for patches of wet or discolored bark and for piles of frass or borer excrement. Boring larvae excrete sawdust as they feed, and the remains mark the location of tunnels. Remove or kill borers manually if possible by inserting copper wires in the tunnels. Don't leave the wire in the tree.

Prune out any dead wood on the tree in late winter before weather warms and insects emerge. Rake up any fallen twigs or limbs on the ground beneath the trees. Gather and burn all the debris to destroy any insects overwintering in the wood.


Things You Will Need

  • Heavy wrapping paper
  • Garden twine
  • Carbaryl insecticide
  • Tsp. measure
  • Pressure tank sprayer
  • Copper wire
  • Pruning shears
  • Limb loppers
  • Rake


  • Paper wrap defends the tree by preventing beetles from laying eggs on the bark. Paper also prevents sunscald, a common problem in transplanted saplings.
  • Insecticide sprays won't kill boring larvae already in the tree, but will kill hatching larvae on the bark before the worms enter. Emerging adult beetles chewing through the outer bark also ingest the poison and die. Regular application of insecticide effectively disrupts the beetle's life cycle.


  • Since beetles hatch every few weeks throughout the growing season, one application of insecticide will not guarantee healthy trees. Beetles migrating from other areas could attack the trees after the potency of the poison fades.

About the Author


James Young began writing in 1969 as a military journalist combat correspondent in Vietnam. Young's articles have been published in "Tai Chi Magazine," "Seattle Post-Intelligencer," Sonar 4 ezine, "Stars & Stripes" and "Fine Woodworking." He has worked as a foundryman, woodturner, electronics technician, herb farmer and woodcarver. Young graduated from North Seattle Community College with an associate degree in applied science and electronic technology.