Dogwood Borer

Synanthedon scitula

James Solomon, USDA Forest Service

The Dogwood Borer is a moth that looks a lot like a small wasp. Adult borers are about 1 centimeter long. They have bluish-black bodies with yellow stripes. Females have more yellow than males. The wings of this moth are clear.

Dogwood Borers can be found wherever their favorite trees live, including forests, parks, and yards.

Adult Dogwood Borers become active in late May. They only live for about a week, so they need to find a mate quickly. After mating, female borers lay eggs on wounds in trees. Some tree species they use include: Flowering Dogwood, American Beech, elms, oaks, birches, Black Willow, blueberries (shrubs), American Chestnut, hickories, and pines.

University of Missouri Extension, http://muextension.missouri.edu

Cornell University

Adult Female Dogwood Borer

Cornell University

Adult Male Dogwood Borer

Larvae hatch from eggs in about nine days. Dogwood Borer larvae look like grubs; they are whitish with pale brown heads. The larvae bore (burrow) into the tree’s bark. They continue to bore and eat the bark, making huge galleries. A gallery is a network of tunnels made by many borers. Larva will overwinter underneath the bark.

In Spring, Dogwood Borer larvae become pupae (resting stage). They make a dark brown cocoon with silk and frass (poop). The cocoon is usually near the surface of the bark. A little less than a month later, adult borers leave their cocoons and start the cycle again.

Michigan State University Extension, Van Buren County

Dogwood Borer Larva

Michigan State University Extension, Van Buren County

Dogwood Borer In Pupa Case

Not all Dogwood Borers emerge in late May. They come out a few at a time until September. The later borers lay their eggs last, and their larvae will be the last to hatch that year. Those larvae will then be the last to pupate the following Spring. Larvae are only a couple of millimeters long when they are first born, but are about 1 centimeter when they are full grown. If you were to look inside a borer gallery, you would probably see larvae of all different sizes. You could tell which ones hatched first, and which ones hatched more recently.

James Solomon, USDA Forest Service

Both the young and adults have predators. Larvae and pupae are eaten by woodpeckers , nuthatches, and other birds which can dig under the bark. Adults are eaten by birds, bats, spiders, and other insect eaters.

Dogwood Borers can cause a lot of damage to trees. If their galleries get too big, they can even kill their host tree. Since borers harm the trees they live in, this makes them parasites.

Adult borers are most active at dawn and dusk, making them crepuscular animals.

Besides laying eggs on tree wounds, female Dogwood Borers will also lay eggs in oak galls.

The damage larvae cause to tree bark gives other parasites, such as fungus, a chance to invade the tree.

Michigan State University Extension, Van Buren County

Relationships in Nature:

FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Flowering Dogwood

Pileated Woodpecker

Flowering Dogwood

Flowering Dogwood H

American Elm

White-breasted Nuthatch

American Elm

American Elm H

Mockernut Hickory

Downy Woodpecker

Mockernut Hickory

Mockernut Hickory H

Black Willow

Rabid Wolf Spider

Black Willow

Black Willow H

American Beech

Big Brown Bat

American Beech

American Beech H

Gray Birch

Green Darner

Gray Birch

Gray Birch H

Black Cherry

Common Whitetail

Black Cherry

Black Cherry H

Highbush Blueberry

Ebony Jewelwing

Highbush Blueberry

Highbush Blueberry H

Witch Hazel

Spined Micrathena

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel H

Virginia Pine

Great Crested Flycatcher

Virginia Pine

Virginia Pine H

Willow Oak

American Robin

Willow Oak

Willow Oak H

White Oak

Northern Mockingbird

White Oak

White Oak H

Loblolly Pine

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Loblolly Pine

Loblolly Pine H

Eastern White Pine

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern White Pine

Eastern White Pine H

Black Oak

Common Yellowthroat

Black Oak

Black Oak H

American Toad

Oyster Mushroom FA

Black Carpenter Ant

Artist's Conk FA

American Crow

Oak Apple Gall Wasp SP

Relationship to Humans:

Dogwood Borers are a pest to people when they damage or kill trees in their yards.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Arthropod
CLASS
Insect
ORDER
Lepidoptera
FAMILY
Sesiideae
GENUS
Synanthedon
SPECIES
Synanthedon scitula

 
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