What Causes Large Holes in Tree Trunks?

What causes large holes in tree trunks? It’s understandable to feel alarmed when you see them in your beloved specimen, but worry no more. We can help identify your mystery!

As Paso Robles’ expert tree service, we at Cut Rite Tree Service have tackled this conundrum time and time again. Read along as we take a closer look into the leading causes and the best steps to take for your living landscape.


Do you see bugs scuttling around your tree? Many species love to feed on cellulose, a key component in woody plants. Some of the most common ones we’ve encountered include:

Bark Beetles

Bark beetles are small pests that bore through the bark of trees, leaving tiny holes in their wake. They make tunnels inside and lay eggs in niches along its length.

Since bark beetles feed on the cambium layer, the part of the tree responsible for transporting water and nutrients, ignoring them for too long often leads to the host plant’s death. Most of them also carry fungal spores, which can grow and spread to other trees nearby.

Buprestid Beetles

If you see oval or D-shaped holes all over your tree, the culprit is likely a Buprestid beetle. Another tell-tale sign is brightly colored wing covers with a metallic sheen.

Unlike bark beetles, they tend to attack diseased or dying branches on otherwise healthy trees. That’s why you generally don’t need to worry about these critters when you regularly prune your specimen.

Round-Headed Beetles

Round-headed or longhorn beetles make small holes (but slightly larger than those left by bark beetles) in trees. They love to set up shop in weakened plants, so you should check for them if your specimen has recently experienced trauma or infection.


Woodpeckers, as their name implies, are famous for drilling large, irregularly-shaped holes into trunks in search of insects. They might look cute when you see them in cartoons, but you don’t want them in your garden. They prove quite destructive when given free rein.

Sapsuckers, a type of woodpecker, are particularly adept at drilling numerous smaller holes in trees to consume their sap. You’ll recognize them by their distinctive black-and-white coloring.

Poor Pruning Practices

When people ask us what causes large holes in tree trunks, human error is one of the first things that come to mind. Inexperienced pruners often cut branches fully flush against the trunk, neglecting to leave space for it to heal properly. This mistake causes the tree to decompose the wound inwards, which then creates a cavity over time.

What to Do Next

Too many assume that you need to fill holes in a damaged tree using concrete, but this practice rarely helps. In fact, it may even impede healing by preventing the plant from producing its own protective layer of callus tissue.

The best way to save your specimen is to consult a local arborist. They can:

  • Find the cause of your tree’s distress and treat it
  • Conduct scheduled trimming to discourage infestations
  • Make recommendations for future care

Trees with compromised structural integrity are a ticking time bomb, so you want to address them quickly before they damage your property — or cause bodily injury.

Fast Action Is the Key

Why not leave the task to a crew with a solid track record of success? Our team at Cut Rite Tree Service LLC is your go-to source for tree removal services, stump grinding, and other tailor-fit landscaping solutions. 

You can expect:

  • Credible advice from a licensed, insured, and certified team
  • Up-to-date methods and technology
  • Speedy turnaround times
  • An in-depth approach to customer service
  • And more

Give us a call at 559-320-7723! We hope our article answered your question, “What causes large holes in tree trunks?”


We are a locally owned company that prides ourselves in providing the best service possible for the residents of Fresno, Clovis, Madera, Sanger, Folwer, Reedley and the surrounding areas.

Contact Us

1806 N Temperance
Fresno, CA 93727 



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