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Round-headed Apple Tree Borer (Saperda candida)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Round-headed Apple Tree Borer



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The small larvae of the Round-headed Apple Tree Borer are responsible for many tree deaths thanks to their interruptive tunneling.



Updated: 07/09/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Adult Round-headed Apple Tree Borers are attractively colored and striped. They are not exclusive visitors to apple trees despite their name. Ash, plum, pear, hawthorn, serviceberry, and quince trees are also targets. Adults feed on tree leaves, but their young are a devastating force that ruins hope of home-grown fruit. Females lay fertilized eggs into the lower part of tree trunks. The newly hatched larvae begin chewing their way deeper into the trunk. They cast out the digested wood as frass, a sawdust-like material usually found at entry holes. Tunneling across the 'veins' of the tree breaks the upward and downward flow of xylem and phloem, the water and liquid food a tree needs to have in all of its parts to survive. Free-flowing sap can sometimes also be seen at entry points, signs of the tree losing its nutrients. Larvae can remain inside the tree for years while they grow and develop. Many larvae in one tree can cause it to weaken and die via starvation or infection.

Spraying trees (trunk and leaves) with insecticide in late spring/early summer helps poison adults and deter any surviving females from landing on trunks to lay eggs. Painting the lower part of a tree trunk with whitewash helps make it easier to see indicators of larval infiltration. If caught early, digging out the dead bark at an entry point and poking wire into the larval hole may effectively kill it, though this time-intensive manner of control is not easy, nor is it practical in orchards. Multiple applications of insecticide throughout the summer can reduce and protect trees and is the most common form of control.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon
Harmful insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon


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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Cerambycidae
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          Genus: Saperda
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            Species: candida
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Saperda candida
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 21mm (0.39" to 0.82")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: white, orange, brown
Descriptors: striped, banded, flying, harmful, apple, sawdust
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Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 21mm (0.8in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 15.5mm
Hi: 21mm
Territorial Map*
U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Round-headed Apple Tree Borer may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Round-headed Apple Tree Borer. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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