How to Treat Mesquite for Borers


Mesquite is a species of thorny tree that grows in arid areas of the United States. It remains impervious to borer infestation as long as the bark of the tree is unblemished. Insects called borers lay their eggs in the tiny cracks and crevices of broken bark. Developing larvae cause damage as they begin to mature. They drill long deep holes into the tree in their search for food. Borers can kill an unprotected mesquite tree but will not damage its finished wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Leaf rake
  • Pump sprayer
  • Insecticide
  • Rototiller
  • General-purpose fertilizer
  • Water

Prune away all deadwood from the tree. Rake up all twigs, trimmings and branches from under the tree and bundle them up for removal; loose tree materials provide shelter for colonies of future borers. Either burn the debris or take it to a landfill.

Choose an applicator that is convenient for you to use. Most garden centers carry several hand-pump varieties and hose-end types. Select one to use in conjunction with an insecticidal liquid chemical mixture. Check the label on the insecticide concentrate and make sure it contains imidacloprid, permethrin or bifenthrin as active ingredients. These are all effective in the management of mesquite borers.

Treat the canopy of the tree first; adult borers feed on leaves and twigs prior to laying their eggs in lower areas of the tree. Make sure the liquid seeps into open cracks, crevices and existing borer holes in the tree bark as well as the cuts made by the pruning shears. Spray the trunk of the tree all the way down to the surface of the soil. Check the mesquite tree for live borers in a week and re-spray if necessary.

Turn over the soil around the base of the tree with a rototiller. Work the machine around the tree in an 8-foot circle. Loosen the earth to a depth of 6 inches, this allows the roots of the tree to absorb water and nutrients.

Apply a general-purpose granulated fertilizer and water your mesquite tree until small puddles begin to form on the surface of the soil. For really dry soils, do a repeat watering in seven days.

Tips & Warnings

  • Concentrated liquid chemicals and granulated fertilizers require specific procedures for use; always follow the product label recommendations before using.
  • A hose-end sprayer is recommended for larger trees.
  • Wear eye protection when using tree spray.

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