2 Pests That Like To Gnaw On A California Buckeye – And How To Protect Your Tree

California buckeyes are large ornamental trees with bright flowers, large nuts, and fan-shaped leaves that turn bright yellow during the summer rather than autumn. The summer dormancy makes the buckeye tree an unusual and vivid addition to many landscaping projects. The tree is also native to the United States, which makes this a good pick for those trying to avoid invasive species.

Discuss with your nursery whether a California buckeye is the right choice for your yard. You will need to know that the nuts are poisonous to bees so if you want to keep any bees around, this isn't the best bet. But the tree isn't poisonous to all insects so you will still need to keep an eye out for some of the common pests.

Here are a couple of the common pests that like to gnaw on a California buckeye and how you can protect the tree from further damage post-infestation.

Fruittree Leafroller

Fruittree leafrollers are the larvae of a certain type of moth. The adult moths lay large collections of eggs within the bark of the California buckeye. Those eggs later hatch small larvae that start off with green bodies and black heads but age to become mostly brownish-green. The larvae feed on the leaves of the buckeye tree.

One of the common signs of a leafroller infestation is the titular rolled leaves. The larvae roll the leaves up to hide inside and feed. The leaves stay rolled due to a silky substance the larvae can spread. But the larvae don't always roll leaves and can just as happily chew on unrolled leaves, which will start to show signs of chewing, particularly around the edges.

The good news is that the fruittree leafrollers rarely do substantial damage to a California buckeye. The greatest damage would typically happen during the summer, which is when the buckeye enters dormancy anyway. You can call in a tree service company to check to make sure the leafrollers aren't back when the next growth cycle starts but the problem will likely resolve itself.

Bark Beetles

Bark beetles are small – think the size of a rice grain – and have hard red or black bodies and mandibles used for chewing. The beetles can use those mandibles to chew through the bark of your California buckeye tree. Symptoms include oozing holes or areas of wood dust around stressed or broken areas of the tree.

Bark beetles do target trees that have already experienced some damage, so the best treatment is prevention. Ask a tree trimming service--like Treetime Inc--to regularly and carefully prune the tree and to remove any limbs that become damaged during a storm.

An infestation that has already taken hold can sometimes be treated with insecticide applied by a pest control company. But the chemical control should be joined with pruning and maintenance of unhealthy areas, as improving the vitality of the tree will help it naturally fight off the beetles.