Q: I wonder if you could help me determine what is wrong with my Japanese maple. About 2 months ago, I noticed that the upper portion of the trunk looked like it had been clawed. At first I thought it was the work of my cat because the marks are within it’s reach. But I have also discovered small black bugs on the trunk and have also noticed small red ants setting up camp as well. Any idea on what is happening?
A: I forwarded you question to Japanese maple expert Mike Francis at The Maple Farm & Greenhouse Nurseries (770-987-4066) on Covington Highway. He replied:
“My money is on the cat. The shreds of bark are consistent with something clawing the bark. I can think of no insects or diseases that would cause the damage I see. Maybe he can loosely wrap the bark with hardware cloth to deter the cat.”