En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Tiny holes oozing sap from Austin

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
2 ratings

Wednesday - August 22, 2012

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Pests, Trees
Title: Tiny holes oozing sap from Austin
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My ash tree becomes loaded with butterflies on the trunk. At closer inspection, I see they are drinking sap which is coming from small holes in the trunk. Are the butterflies creating the holes? I don't see any other creature besides the usual ants (not many) on the trunk. Are the butterflies boring into my tree? Are they hurting it? I only see activity on the trunk of the ash tree. Thank you.

ANSWER:

This particular member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team once watched a gentleman downy (or ladderback) woodpecker bring three nestlings to a live oak trunk outside my kitchen window for pecking lessons. The little birds lined up and dutifully watched as Dad did a sample peck; then they would do their lessons. Over the years, other families used the same schoolroom, and there were little lines of pecks all around the (undamaged) live oak. I have since moved away from that tree,  but I wonder if it is still visited by my bird friends. Other birds that leave holes in bark, hunting for insects and sap are sapsuckers. They can actually do a little damage, but a healthy tree should be fine. The ants you see on the trunk are going for the same sap, unless they are on the way up to tend their aphid farms in the leaves. But on the bright side, what a neat way to attract butterflies down to where you can see them closely.

 

More Trees Questions

Hurricane damage to pecan tree
November 12, 2008 - The recent hurricane twisted the top out of our pecan tree, leaving a couple still attached but down on the ground. Could we cut all of the damage off and just leave the trunk? Would there be a chan...
view the full question and answer

Coconut in a husk from Round Rock TX
January 26, 2011 - Looking for a coconut in its complete husk ?
view the full question and answer

Trees for privacy screen
August 08, 2012 - Hello, We'd like to plant a privacy screen to hide our view of an adjacent apartment complex. Ideally the trees or other plantings might be a native species, and preferably they would eventually rea...
view the full question and answer

Information about Lemon Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa)
December 16, 2007 - Lately, I've been seeing references to a tree/shrub called a "lemon cypress tree". It looks like a standard Italian cypress, but the foilage is yellow. I cannot find any reference to this plant e...
view the full question and answer

Controlling Tree Roots in Sewer Lines
July 16, 2014 - We had a leak with our underground pipes near the meter box - the pipes are at least a foot or more underground. My plumber poured table salt on the pipes to deter roots from a nearby tree from gettin...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center