How to Manage Pests

UC Pest Management Guidelines


Shothole Borer

Scientific Name: Scolytus rugulosus

(Reviewed 6/10, updated 6/10, pesticides updated 9/15)

In this Guideline:

Description of the Pest

Shothole borers are tiny brown or black beetles; their white legless grubs mine the tree's cambium layer (sapwood). Adult females bore tiny holes in the bark and lay eggs in the cambium layer of the tree. When the eggs hatch, young larvae feed and excavate secondary galleries at right angles to the egg gallery. The outline of the gallery system resembles a centipede. There are from one to three generations each year.


Normally a number of shothole borer adults invade a tree at the same time. Healthy trees exude resin, which usually kills the insects. If the tree has injured or weakened areas, this resin buildup does not develop and the invasion is successful. Ultimately larvae can girdle the tree, causing tree or branch death.


Maintaining healthy trees and preventing sunburn are the keys to preventing damage by shotholeborer. Painting the trees with white wash or a 50:50 mixture of white interior latex paint and water will help prevent sunburn and possibly inhibit egg laying. Avoid pruning during summer, and prune trees so that scaffolds are shaded to prevent sunburn. Remove horizontal scaffolds when pruning/thinning young trees.

Protect newly planted or newly grafted trees from sunburn by painting the trunk and graft with white interior latex paint or using tree wrappers around the trunk. If paint is used, be sure to mix it with water; undiluted latex paint can kill young trees. Thin the latex paint to a mixture of one-half water and one-half latex paint and paint the trunk from 2 inches below ground level to 2 feet above.

Prune to eliminate areas in older trees infested with shothole borer. Remove severely infested trees. Burn or remove all infested wood from the orchard before the growing season starts. Do not leave pruned limbs or stumps (healthy or infested) near orchards (for example, in woodpiles) as populations can emerge from these materials before they dry out, and beetles will then migrate into orchards. There are no insecticide treatments recommended for this insect.

Common name Amount to use
(Example trade name)  

Calculate impact of pesticide on air quality
Bee precaution pesticide ratings
A. WHITE LATEX PAINT# 50% paint and water mixture
  COMMENTS: Paint trees at time of planting. Be sure paint extends below ground level. This treatment will prevent sunburn, which can reduce attack by shothole borer.
# Acceptable for use on organically grown produce.


[UC Peer Reviewed]

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines: Nectarine
UC ANR Publication 3451

Insects and Mites

K. R. Day, UC Cooperative Extension, Tulare County
K.Tollerup, UC IPM Program, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier

Acknowledgment for contributions to Insects and Mites:
W. J. Bentley, UC IPM Program, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier
R. E. Rice, Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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