I caught this bug burrowing into the trunk of my rhododendron, and I persuaded it to exit its home.

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Here's a close up of said worm.

close up of worm

I can't imagine it being other than damaging to my tree. Anyone know what it is? The location is Wellington, New Zealand.

Edit: the bark had been damaged by my plastic rubbish bin rubbing against it and I believe this is why some beetle laid its egg here. I removed the frass before taking the picture, and I admit I did use a Philips screwdriver to encourage the woodworm to leave its new home in my tree. The hole is about 4 mm (.15 in) in diameter so I think it's too big for a rhododendron borer which I'm not even sure we have in NZ. The holes of the two tooth borer are said to be oval but this one seems quite round.

  • Hi Graham! I know nothing about these things, but spent an hour searching the internet, and I can't figure it out! (You've probably already done that!) I agree that it doesn't seem to be a rhododendron borer. Do you have any June bugs or similar beetles? Some of their larvae have rounder heads with spiky fur, and similar bodies, like the stag beetle, although I don't think that's it! Some wood borers are common to azalea and rhododendron. This NZ site is worth a look. Sorry I couldn't help you! Commented Jan 29, 2018 at 22:05
  • Send a photo to the bug man. I think his email would be [email protected] Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 12:23

2 Answers 2


A borer, don't know the specific one. Almost any plant can be attacked . They are difficult to kill with poison ( Lindane). It is usually more practical to kill them with something like a wire; normally only one or a few.

  • Don't borers eat dead wood? Commented Jan 20, 2018 at 19:57
  • I have seen them in live trees - oaks, pines, birch, etc. Commented Jan 23, 2018 at 0:49

Looks like something we have here, a Leopard Moth (Zeuzera pyrina) however the location information I have is quite wrong and I've never seen anything like this before munching into a Rhodo? the best thing is to prune out the affected wood and burn it. keep an eye out for anymore- just try to keep the site clean and remove any dead material around the parent plant. I wouldn't bother spraying for one occurrence.

  • But not found in New Zealand so it's probably something else. Commented Jan 22, 2018 at 22:47

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