[NAFEX] A righteous borer tool

Hélène Dessureault interverbis at videotron.ca
Fri Nov 25 20:56:16 EST 2005

<They will get planted out in the spring and I hope I am not transporting borers to the field as well.  There are wild apples and woods about 100 to 200 feet away.>

These nasty beasts spend the Winter in the roots where they do a lot of damage. The adult is a black undescripted bug which emerges in the Spring and flies readily to a new location. In some warmer climates, you probably have more than one generation a year as well. In the worst of the infestation that I had (it took me a while to understand the problem) I once found two borers in one fairly small tree and borers in every tree or second trees. Now that I am destroying them every chance I get, I only have a few each year and I try to be watchful so as to catch them early. 

We had a discussion about round-headed appletree borer on this list, two years ago and someone from Maine by the name of Phillips, I think, was suggesting piano wire as the best tool. Personnally, I use a fairly rigid 6 inches wire (which does resemble a piano wire) and I poke in the gallery and often the worm gets impalled. How do you know the culprit is dead? Someone pointed out that if the worm is still alive you will see sign of activity and more rusty dust at the entrance of the hole in the following days. So, you can try again. Sometimes, you need more than one attempt.
If two attemps with the wire don't do it, I proceed to level 2 which is a seringe full of organic insecticide to be injected in the hole. I keep my official round-headed appletree borer apparatus in the garden shed. The insect seems to be more sensitive to the insecticide at the worm stage than at the adult stage but they both succomb to direct contact with the most innocuous looking organic insecticide and I know there are far more lethal stuff out there. 
I think that the borer is attracted to the weaker trees, generally. Care must be taken to improve the soil and general health of the trees. Poor condition trees take longer to heal as well. 
What baffles me is this drilling action that people are referring to. The galleries dug by round-headed borer are not rectiline by any means.... They don't go straight into the wood. They follow the cambium under the bark, meandering and often crossing the tree sort of sideways. How can drilling be of any use ... 

Hélène, Québec zone 3-4,
where winter settled yesterday with 4 inches of snow 
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Deirdre Birmingham 
  To: michael at herbsandapples.com, North American Fruit Explorers 
  Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2005 2:10 PM
  Subject: Re: [NAFEX] A righteous borer tool

  This is handy info but I cannot picture how it works, probably because I don't know what the drill bit looks like. Seems it should be something flexible to follow holes, n'est-ce pas?  
   I discoverd this borer in my young trees in my nursery in October as I was preparing them for the winter.  Just in  less than 1% of them. The few affected were on mostly Bud-9 and one was on M-26.   They will get planted out in the spring and I hope I am not transporting borers to the field as well.  There are wild apples and woods about 100 to 200 feet away.  
  What I didn't find explained well as I searched for what to do is how much of the tree to cut out.  I used a paper clip, not having copper wire handy as your book (previous edition) and other references indicated,  and then a pocket knife to cut until all affected tissue was removed.  Seemed a bit drastic at times.  Is one supposed to be? I never noticed any grubs, but they could have been in the mix of what I was jabbing at and then cutting out. On one tree they seemed to have already headed down into the roots. 
  I was painting tree bases for SW tree injury using latex paint.  I have no need for Surround yet, but had on hand diatomaceous earth.  So I added water and DE to the white latex paint.  And then painted as close to the soil line as possible and on all sides of the tree trunk.  DE was recommended in your new book for dogwood borer, but will it work on the round-headed appletree borer? 


    ----- Original Message ----- 
    From: Michael Phillips 
    To: North American Fruit Explorers
    Sent: 11/21/2005 6:33:30 PM 
    Subject: [NAFEX] A righteous borer tool

    Hi all,


    Twenty years of suffering have gone into this discovery, as Ive done the incessant search for damage -- and thus the grub culprits -- caused by the round-headed appletree borer. In the process, Ive probably lost four or so good pocketknives (misplaced in the grass) and at least a few dozen trees. All the biology and trunk clues are explained in my book, including the new revised edition, but whats new here is that Ive finally discovered the right tool to go borer hunting. The key is to delve throughout all damaged cambium and end up with a skewered grub at the end of the search. It turns out that a 3/8 borer bit (Im not making up this name! though its also known as a spade bit) is a righteous device for poking up the dreaded borer! Smaller diameter drill bits of this type do not have the spear point. This bit is plenty sturdy to open up damaged areas, poke gently into suspect ed crevices, and absolutely great at delivering the hiding grub from its lowest hiding tunnel. The goal is to get these bastards in the fall of year one, and certainly by the subsequent spring. The old idea of using a wire to follow a deep, winding tunnel is fine, but geez, really: Why not get them soon after egg hatch with a full thrust jab to the gut? The spade bit is not unlike a harpoon in this regard.


    And if anyone thinks this advice is being offered up by a nut, well then, you really dont understand how incredibly devastating the borer can be, do you?


    Ill just sign off appropriately . . . 


    Captain Ahab


    Michael Phillips

    Lost Nation Orchard

    859 Lost Nation Road

    Groveton, NH 03582




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