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My Oak Tree Is Dying

Expanded Question:

I have a large oak tree in my yard that at times smells like vinegar and has black at about 2 1/2 to 3 feet up from the base.  There are also some holes in the tree in this general area.  There are some insects moths, bees, weird looking ants that frequent the tree.  I am concerned that this tree is becoming hollow.  What do I do?


Insects are attracted to the vinegar smell coming from below the cambium layer of your oak tree.  This is the result of a bacterial infection under the cambium, causing seepage to run down the bark.  The name of this disease is slime flux.

Helping the tree through this illness is limited to applying large amounts of water to the root system.  Water at the rate of 1 gallon per each inch of trunk girth measuring the diameter from 4.5 feet above the ground.

A more contagious disease, uncommon, is Sudden Oak Disease (SOD), which would certainly be known by your State agricultural or forestry departments.

I am only guessing, since I have no view of the tree, but the holes that you see on the bark, may be the result of woodpecker drilling.  Such a possibility could produce a tree infection; whereby, woodpeckers could have transferred bacteria from sick trees to your once healthy tree.

I think this is one situation where State Forestry can help you.

Best wishes Jada,

George Manning

Consulting Entomologist

American Pest Solutions

Pest Control Chicago


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