Q: My thirty-year-old sassanqua camellias are being murdered branch by branch. Something chews the bark off in rings and either kills them or allows fungus to kill them. What can I do?
You’re seeing squirrel damage. I sometimes see gnawing done by squirrels after a sapsucker woodpecker makes holes in a tree trunk. It’s not clear if a sapsucker visited your camellia initially but squirrels are the only creature able to climb up in them and gnaw the bark away to get to the semi-sweet sap.
If the gnawing goes completely around a limb, it will die.
Effective repellents are few and far between. Try spraying with Hot Pepper Wax and see if that helps.
damage done by squirrels after initial sapsucker woodpecker damage