Honey Locust Borers in Denver: A Homeowner’s Guide to Prevention, Identification, and Removal

If your Denver treescape includes locust trees, there is a good chance you have come across honey locust borers at some point. These pesky insects can cause significant damage to trees, so it is important to be able to identify them and take steps to remove them if necessary. In this blog post, we will provide information about how to prevent honey locust borers from infesting your trees, how to identify them if they do become a problem, and how to get rid of them if necessary.

What Are Honey Locust Borers?

Honey locust borers are a type of beetle native to the eastern United States. They typically measure between one and two centimeters in length and have a dark brown or black body with light brown stripes running down their backs. The larvae of these beetles are white with dark brown heads and can reach up to four centimeters in length.

These are the key defining characteristics used to identify honey locust borer beetles:

  • The adult beetle is black with light brown stripes running the length of its body.
  • The larvae are white with dark brown heads.
  • They are native to the eastern United States but are commonly found in Denver, Colorado.

What Do Honey Locust Borers Do?

Honey locust borers feed on the leaves, twigs, and branches of honey locust trees. The larvae bore into the tree and feed on the inner bark, while the adults eat the leaves. This feeding damages the tree and can eventually kill it.

The honey locust borer’s life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

  • The eggs are laid on the leaves of the honey locust tree.
  • The larvae hatch from the eggs and bore into the tree.
  • The pupae develop inside the tree.
  • The adults emerge from the tree to mate and lay eggs.

Springtime and early summer are when adult honey locust borers emerge and are most active.

Which Trees In Denver Are Susceptible to Honey Locust Borers?

Not everyone is a ‘nature buff’, as it were, and many homeowners have no clue what type of tree species they have on their property. Don’t worry, try using these helpful descriptors to check your yard for trees that may be susceptible to the honey locust borer.

All honey locust trees are susceptible to honey locust borers, plus these other common Denver species:

  • Honey locust trees: Honey locust trees can be identified best by their thorns, which are long and pointy. They also have dark-colored bark and leaves that alternate along the branches. At maturity, Honey locust trees stand about  50 feet tall.
  • Red maple trees: Also called swamp maples, red maples can be identified by their reddish-brown color (thus the name). Red maples have smooth, reddish-brown bark and their leaves have sharp points and are usually arranged in pairs. In the fall, their leaves turn a beautiful vibrant color. Red maples can grow up to 40 feet tall.
  • Ash trees: To spot an Ash Tree, look for its unique compound leaves that have five to eleven leaflets. The leaflets are lance-shaped with pointed tips, and the margins have small teeth. Ash trees also have smooth, light gray bark that is sometimes mistaken for a Birch tree. They can grow up to 80 feet tall!
  • Sugar maple trees: An easy way to identify this Denver maple variety is by its leaves. The leaves are wide and have five lobes with deep U-shaped notches between the lobes. The Sugar Maple leaf is also very unique because it has a smooth texture on top and a hairy texture on the bottom.
  • Oak trees: These towering trees can grow up to 100 feet tall and live for centuries! There are many different types of oaks, but the most common in Denver is the Red Oak and the White Oak. The easiest way to identify an oak tree is by its leaves, which are simple and have lobed margins. Another identifying factor is the acorns that these trees produce.
  • Elm trees: Used for shade and ornamental reasons,  elm trees are a common sight in many yards and parks. They can be identified quickly by their distinctive leaves which have a rough, sandpapery texture. Denver Elm trees also have small fruits that grow in clusters.

Still not feeling confident about identifying your trees? No problem! Simply give us a call and one of our expert arborists can come out for a consultation. Knowing your trees and their needs is the first key step to protecting them and preventing honey locust infestation.

What Kinds of Damage Can A Honey Locust Infestation Do To My Trees?

Once honey locust beetles have infested your trees, the larvae begin to feed on the inner bark. This feeding disrupts the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients, which can lead to dieback in the leaves and branches. In severe cases, an infestation can kill a tree.

Here are some signs that a tree will display when infested:

  • progressive dieback in the canopy
  • small holes in the trunk or branches
  • knots and swellings on the trunk
  • wet spots on the bark
  • sawdust at the base of the tree or on the ground around it
  • galleries of larval tunnels under the bark

If you think your trees might be infested, take action and contact an experienced arborist ASAP. Our certified team of experts can inspect your trees and start a treatment plan to eliminate the pests. The sooner the better! During an infestation, weeks and months can be the difference between life and death for your Denver tree.

How Can I Prevent a Honey Locust Borer Infestation?

The best way to prevent an infestation is to have healthy trees. Honey locust borers are attracted to stressed and unhealthy trees. Proper tree care is key in preventing an infestation.

Here are some tips for keeping your Denver trees healthy:

  • water them regularly, especially during drought conditions
  • fertilize them every year
  • prune and trim dead branches
  • protect the roots from damage from road salt, construction, or other sources

If you have a honey locust tree, it’s important to be extra vigilant. These trees are especially susceptible to infestation. Check your honey locust tree for signs of borers a regular part of your lawn and tree care routine. If you notice any, contact a professional immediately.

Honey locust borers are also attracted to trees that are already infested with other pests. So, if you have an infestation of another type of insect, it’s important to treat that infestation as soon as possible too!

A Tried And True Tree Care Approach

Preventing pest infestation is no easy undertaking. The average Denver homeowner doesn’t have the tools or know-how to stop honey locust borers from preying on their trees. But awareness is everything. Now that you know about the dangers, you can be one step ahead of these pests!

Ready to make a plan for your honey locust trees this spring? At Fielding Tree & Shrub Care we take a four-step approach for treating honey locust trees:

Step 1: A complimentary on-site disease diagnosis of your trees and/or shrubs. Sending a picture in advance helps speed things up!

Step 2: We work to cure the disease or at least slow it down with the most viable treatment option available for your tree or shrub’s unique situation.

Step 3: A proactive approach is implemented to protect your existing trees from disease or infestation.

Step 4: Unfortunately, sometimes trees and shrubs die, even with our best, safest, and most proven treatment solutions. If your tree or shrub dies, we try to remove the dead plant as soon as reasonably possible. This keeps your property safe from unnecessary infestations and unsightly rotting trees or shrubs.

Contact our friendly team to set up your free consultation today!