I was asked what could almost perfectly cut a branch of a young pecan tree. Looking at the trees and where they are planted, we thought about wildlife – deer. This is right on the Ocmulgee too, so they are everywhere. It turns out that it is insect damage. It’s the first time I’ve seen this damage from a small long-horned beetle called the ‘twig girdler.’
UGA Extension Pecan Entomologist Dr. Will Hudson says that the female is one which chews and girdles around the twig. She then lays her egg outwards from the girdle site. The larvae hatches and tunnels inside the twig during development. The twigs break off in winter storms, and the next generation emerges from that twig next summer.
The only control is to clean up the broken twigs and burn them. This will help reduce the numbers, but they will attack almost any deciduous tree. There are plenty of them in the woods. Once the pecan trees get larger, the damage is not significant.