Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tree killer

By Skeeter

We had to cut down a huge tree in our Georgia woods recently. The thing was rotting in the top and dropping large limbs on the driveway so time for it to come down. With the assistance of our neighbor and his tractor, he and the Saint got her to the ground. We cleaned up the mess the best we could and the Saint and our neighbor cut the trunk into lengths for firewood.

We rented a Log Splitter and spent one weekend splitting wood for the wood shed. Perfect timing as we had used the last stick of wood this past winter. While splitting the wood, we found the culprit to the trees death. Or what we believe anyway. Click on the video to see this scary thing crawling around.
See how large these creatures are compared to the Saints hands? They were like giant caterpillars that could saw a tree down!
Even out of the wood, their jaws were chomping as if trying to tunnel out of a tree! We plucked at least 100 if not more from the rotting wood. I contacted our County Extension Agent and he informs me these creatures are Sawyer Beetles. They are decomposers and eat dead or dying wood so they did not kill the tree. He says the tree looks to be an Oak and probably died due to the drought.
Here the Saint is busy splitting a small piece of wood from the limbs. Look at the size of the piece which formed the trunk of the tree that he is sitting on. The trunk pieces each made between 40-45 pieces of fire wood! The tree was really hard wood where it was not dying or dead. The Saint and I both worked as a team splitting the large pieces. He had to use the muscles to get the huge piece in place while I worked the levers on the machine. Together we got most of it split. About 6 remain in the woods where it will stay until it dries out a bit more. It was too difficult to split the wet wood while in such large pieces.

Yep, that was one huge tree to get to the ground then to get cut up into firewood.

We traded off splitting the small pieces of wood with the Saint splitting while I loaded my little red wagon and drove to the woodshed and stacked. Then I split and he loaded and stacked. Was a tough job and of course this took place with unexpected humidity in the air. Just our luck...We joke and say, "Yet another thing we can put on a Resume that we would never do for a living" Hard work I tell you and I admire the folks which do this to earn a living!

We stacked the good hard wood 2 rows deep in the wood shed and it should be ready for the fireplace this winter. We also split the rotting wood for easy burning in the outside fire pits. Will make some good campfires on cool nights.

It was probably the drought and not the strange creature that was a TREE KILLER, In the Garden...

Always trying to find the bright side of things, we have a shed full of firewood!


  1. We have a large Oak that is bleeding out,(red sap) I posted it before. Now little pieces of wood constantly fall from the tree. We know the tree is dying and has to be removed, wonder if these caterpillars are in our tree?

  2. Good Morning All,
    Skeeter that was a big tree. Eewww to the worms. I don't like those things. But you would be surprised how fast they can eat a tree even of that size.
    I too have a large double trunk oak in my backyard {only one} that is constantly dropping limbs. We just had it trimmed up & it still is drooping them. I told Young'un that it is dying & needs to come down.
    I love the 6th pic down. I like the way the driveway curves around like that.
    What did you do with the worms?

  3. so small animals can kill a big tree :-(

  4. Those are some creepy lil bugs !!

  5. Good morning everyone! Another Beautiful Day in Georgia and time to get our "Liquid Asset" to the lake...

    Darla, These little buggars may be in your tree. I think the reason the limbs were falling were from them weakening the already dead limbs.

    Darla and Lola, we were lucky we got this tree down when we did as we had some major wind storms soon after which we know could have taken the tree down for us. It would have more then likely fallen over the driveway and destroyed our fence. Better to take them down properly then allow Mother Nature to if any harm could come to the surrounding structures. And with hurricanes in Florida, the wind will surely take them down for you eventually...

    Lola, The drive to the house through the woods from the street was a selling factor for me when we purchased this house. I feel like I am going to a Lodge at a park each time we return home. I put a few of the worms near the bird feeders to see if the Blue Jays wanted them but no luck. Not knowing they were not harming the tree, we killed them. Ark, NOTE TO SELF: should research something before squashing in the future...

    Kathrin, amazing what something so small can do to something so large....

    Happy Hermit, they really were creepy and I was glad to have on gloves when removing them from the woods. Ick, they were strange little things...

    To the Lake we Go....

  6. Morning Skeeter, that is an interesting looking caterpillar...big too! I think we will be seeing the result of the past few years of drought in trees and shrubs thoughout this summer. We didn't have quite the drought that you did and we lost a good number of shrubs in the Learning Garden. Hurray for rain!!
    Nice stand of cord wood for the winter!

  7. Yuck! Those a hungry little boogers! I have never seen the round headed borers before. I did Google them and learned something new today! We had a few trees infested with flat head borers. They for sure do kill the tree. I got rid of them by handpicking yet the bark and cambium was irreversably destroyed. It is so sad to lose a tree for any reason. Many folks are wondering why their trees are dying now but it can be traced directly to the drought and late freeze in 2007. Hard to relate something that happened a few years ago to a tree dying now. Glad you got it down safely and have lots of firewood! That oak will burn well.

    I'm off to visit NC. Will check in when I can. You all take care.

  8. Oh, my gawd! Those are gross!
    The oak will burn well, that's the first wood gone in selective cutting up here, they get it for furniture and such, since it's so hard.

  9. Losing an Oak to the drought is a bit scary. Hope that's the last casualty. That said... looks like you're stocked for some fun camp fires! And if this we're "in the wild" or some such show, you'd be roasting those larvae!

  10. Skeeter when reading this I was thinking that I know you do not like to kill wildlife but hoping you would so I think you did the right thing. By the time you found out they did not kill a tree they could have done more damage in another tree or made more babies to do more damage someplace else. Beetles can do a lotta harm in a big hurry. Even if the tree if already dying, they do further damage it. Oak is one of the best firewood there is. Burns hot, long and clean. Good job in making use of it.

  11. Very interesting post! It looks like you got a lot a good firewood from that tree. Oak is great for burning.

  12. oh !!
    the culprit look slimy....the way it prowl is very smoothly....
    any way you got your shed filled for the next winter....

  13. I don't think I could touch on of those things, they are pretty gross!
    Looks like it was a lot of hard work, but now you've got plenty of firewood.
    As homeowners we get to learn lots of new things and it makes me appreciate what other people do all the time for a living.

  14. We use to get our firewood from dead trees on a friend's land too. That's alot of work, we had to do that with our mature maple that was taken down in 2004 after Hurricane Isabel demolished it. Those caterpillars are gross, glad they weren't the killers though.

  15. Strong jaws on those critters. Amazing what they can do! You and the Saint must have been exhausted after all of that. We had to cut down a big live oak after Ivan in 2004, and there are still some chunks of it stacked in the backyard. Son uses it for campfires in the winter.

  16. Good evening everyone! We had a nice long day at the lake today. We caught fish and had a good time with our relaxing day. A bit red though, Gotta remember to put the sun screen on before we feel the burn. Arggg....

    The Sawyer Beetle larvae was an interesting critter to learn about. As with us all on the blogging, learning something new every day. Glad to share something new with you even though a bit sad to loose the oak but happy we have firewood that will make wonderful fires...

    Now time to put Aloe on my stinging shoulders... Sigh...

  17. What a god sent the log splitter must have been. You have a beautiful piece of property.

  18. Those caterpillars absolutely grossed me out. Thank goodness nothing ever gets that big up here. Now I know why I live in northern Illinois;)

  19. Yuck, I hope I don't see any of these creepy critters in my yard! At least you were able to get some good firewood out of this job. My husband and I have a long list of jobs we would never want to do for a living either:)

    Your clematis was quite a steal! It should really put on a show for you next year. I have a Nelly Moser, too, and last year--its second year--it surprised me with all the blooms it had, but this year it's even more amazing.

  20. Dan, the rental store was an asset for a third time with us splitting logs!

    Marnie, your deer are much larger then our deer so I bet they eat more of the Ill plants then our deer do. lol. They are icky larvae for sure...

    Rose, Yep, I am always sad to loose a tree but happy to get a nice stock of firewood! I do hope the Clematis continues to do well by the mailbox. We are lucky to be able to do so much for our self without hiring out the jobs. Then reminded of how we will never do those to earn a living. Well, unless we have to...

  21. Hi Skeeter, I will add to the common thread of the comments with a double yuck! I don't know how he could even have held it. But it was a good thing to get the ID from the extension agent so you know not to blame them anyway. And that is a lovely shed of firewood too. I second the admiration of the people that do this to make a living, and those who do it for their own firewood. :-)

  22. Frances, Hey girl, welcome back from the Spring Fling! Wish I had been there as the bloggers posting seem to have had a wonderful time. But how could so many wonderful people not have a good time. I will hold the memory of the Purple River in my mind for some time now. It was spectacular to say the least in pictures,. I can only imagine how beautiful in real life….

    Yep, the critters icky and the wood cutting, hauling and stacking a hard job. But done now for at least another year or maybe more...