Posted by: Bonnie Phelps | March 20, 2019

Wormgold for GSOB?

Some areas on Palomar have already lost once-healthy oak trees to the Gold Spotted Oak Borer.   I have posted about a spray treatment that has been used but it was pointed out that the spray kills bees and other insects.

Our son, Brandon and his family live on Palomar  and one reason they moved here was because of their desire to live in a beautiful forest.  Brandon has done a lot of research to treat the trees on their land and hopefully save them.

I asked him to share the information with all of you.  Of the different options I have heard about, this one sounds like it makes the most sense.  Wormgold has been used at a ranch a family friend works at with positive results.  Timing for application is critical.  Keep reading for info to do some research for yourself and a link to order the products to treat your trees this spring:

From: Brandon Phelps
Subject: wormgold

Beetles are like the vultures of the insect world; they find dying or distressed plants and then attack them in order kill them and make room for new growth. Southern California has been in a prolonged drought and has been subjected to invasive fungus species in recent years, making our oaks especially vulnerable to beetles such as the gold spotted oak borer.

Traditional methods of dealing with beetles includes apply poison or heavily watering and fertilizing. Poison kills the beetle but it also kills other beneficial insects, including bees. For many on the mountain, water is scarce and can’t be spared for over-watering. There is another way that we are going to use this spring on our land.

Wormgold is an all-natural worm casting product that is like a probiotic for trees and other plants. It both strengthens trees and deters invasive beetle species from attacking, and it does this in three ways. It has beneficial fungus, it has fertilizer nutrients, and it has bacteria which help create a shield around the tree. These bacteria, found in worm guts, produce a compound called chitinase which dissolve chitin. Chitin is what insect exoskeletons are made of, and when they detect chitinase insects will tend to move on.

Wormgold is applied in the spring several times. Rough Acres Ranch, a 1600 acre operation in San Diego country reported success with in their forest management saying “We have used Wormgold on our oak trees here at Rough Acres Ranch. In the two applications (once a year) we have noticed a marked improvement in the greening of our trees. In fact, trees that we were about to write off have shown signs of new growth.”

To get wormgold you typically brew a batch of it. These batches can scale from a few gallons to hundreds of gallons. I’ll use the example of 55 gallons, which might be enough to apply to 20 acres of medium density oak woodland.

List of materials:

  • Backpack with battery to keep good pressure. If you only have a couple trees you might be able to apply by hand and not need this or the soil injector
  • Soil injector for getting the material near the roots.
  • 55 gallon food safe drum
  • A brewing / aerator kit that fits onto the drum
  • A bung to drain the drum
  • Sanitizer
  • A room that remains a constant temperature, around 70 degrees
  • The wormgold product

Approximate cost: $3,300

OASCO sells most of the material required and can advise you on your particular circumstances. It is advisable to apply this in the spring. Talk with Ron and tell him I sent you.

Disclaimer: I’ll be doing this for the first time this year. I’m interested to see what sort of progress against the beetle can be made up here on the mountain.

Brandon Phelps


PO Box 4

Palomar Mountain, CA 92060

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