Please help diagnose a problem with Catalpa tree



Our Catalpa tree is about 25 feet tall and has been healthy up until this year. The bark started to bulge and is now cracking and falling off near the bottom. I can clearly see ants entering at the bottom of the tree, and as bark falls off, there is evidence of something boring underneath. The foliage appears healthy at the moment, but I fear this issue will continue to get worse if I don’t intervene ASAP. From the pictures, is anyone able to diagnose this issue, and perhaps suggest a remedy?image image image image




A lot of times what happens in these cases is the insects are the aftermath of another issue. It could be/may not that the tree may have been planted too deep and that’s what you’re seeing from the bark coming off. Then the tree becomes weak and insects and disease set in.

I can’t tell you for sure but I don’t like that last picture where I cannot see a root flare and I really can’t see callus around the wound surrounding the inner pith. The inner pith is very visible in the last photo fyi. It’s that huge area inside where the bark fell off. What to do? I can’t say for sure. You’d be putting a lot of money into it.

About the only thing you might do is treat it for borers with a Bayer systemic or generic.

Heck, looking up again and turning my head sideways, maybe it’s already rotting and there are termites. I hope someone else can help you better but that’s where personally I’d begin investigating, further.



Another common problem is folks string trimming near the bases of trees and that opens up a wound. There’s a horticultural term for it but I can’t remember today.



Thanks Dax! Termites are definitely a possibility, so I’ll try the Bayer systemic as a catch-all for borers or termites.


Besides the above…lawn tractors or trailers running into trees can do this sort of damage…and you won’t know it for months.


We refer to that as ringing or girdling a tree.


I would imagine that there was a wound that happened at some point in the past and now you have ants and other insects burrowing under the bark and into that soft rotting wood. It appears that the tree is somewhat close to a structure. What are your prevailing strong winds? Id be concerned about that weak area failing and landing on my building. Might be a candidate to make into firewood.


I’d cut it down. It looks very decrepit.

I don’t like all that black bark above and at the sides, either. Looks really, really, bad.



Weedwhacker wilt…is that the term you were looking for?
Akin to lawnmower blight.


No it’s something else. It just has to do with the opening of the bark but more especially with younger trees w/o enough bark. It’s very common for park departments when they hire kids for summer jobs.

It has everything to do with girdling and not any associated pest(s) (disease/insect).