what causes large holes in tree trunks

What Causes Large Holes in Tree Trunks?

Have you noticed holes in your tree and wonder what could be the cause? You might also find yourself asking, does this affect the health of the tree? Will your tree die?

Holes in tree trunks are usually not a cause for alarm. Your tree can recover with proper care. You only need to understand the cause of the problem.

In this article, as a reliable tree service company in Cherry Hill, NJ, we explore what causes large holes in tree trunks.


Woodpeckers have exceptional hearing ability and can easily hear beetles and other insects that live under the tree bark. They’ll then use their long and tough beaks to drill the wood to access the insects.

Woodpeckers often target soft, decaying wood. This doesn’t mean that they can’t bore into healthy, solid wood. Nonetheless, if you notice holes created by woodpeckers on your tree, it could indicate the affected part of the tree has some disease, causing the wood to soften. 

For this reason, you should consider checking your tree’s leaf cover to confirm its health. Besides pecking small holes in your tree, these pesky birds also turn larger hollows into their homes. 


Squirrels have become notorious for building their nests in tree hollows. It’s worth noting that they don’t always create the holes but use the existing ones. 

However, you’ll often find these animals gnawing at weak spots on your tree’s trunk where the bark has rotted or a limb has snapped from the tree. They enjoy the tasty sap of the tree!

While this can be challenging, you can protect your trees from squirrel damage by wrapping their base in chicken wire. This strategy works particularly well in preventing squirrels from digging into the bark of young trees. 

Spraying the trees with squirrel repellant is also effective in keeping these animals out of your backyard. 


Fungi can lead to a wide range of tree diseases and are a major cause of holes in tree trunks. If you notice mushrooms sprouting from the soil above the root ball, you likely have a fungus problem. Luckily, an experienced arborist can help you deal with this problem effectively and restore your tree’s health. 

Old Age

Our list of what causes large holes in tree trunks can’t be complete without us talking about aging. 

Suppose your tree has a hollow trunk, but you can’t see any signs of insect infestation, disease, or physical damage. In that case, you shouldn’t worry so much since large, round holes are sometimes a natural part of aging. Some hollow trees can remain standing for hundreds of years!

Provided it doesn’t compromise your tree’s structural integrity, hollowing can add more years to your tree’s life. This occurs when fungi break down the tree’s deadwood core, which isn’t living but chockful of stored nutrients. The tree’s living outer layers absorb these nutrients, revitalizing themselves. 

Harsh Weather Elements

Storms and other extreme weather elements can be unforgiving to trees. Random branches that fall during wild storms usually leave behind gaping holes. The tree can take a long time to recover, and it may not even survive. 

Contact Your Local Tree Experts for Assistance

Now that you know what causes large holes in tree trunks, you should find a certified professional to help you deal with these problems. If you’re in Cherry Hill, NJ, the experts at Bumblebee Tree Service can help. 

We provide a wide range of services, including:

  • Tree fertilization
  • Tree removal 
  • Tree trimming and pruning

Contact us at (609) 352-0499 for your free estimate or to learn about the signs your tree is dying.

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