Privet hedge - bark damage and die back


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We have a large and long-standing privet hedge (over 2m high x 40m long) which this year has developed many isolated areas of dieback with whole branches dying. The cause (or is it a symptom?) seems to be serious bark damage. The attached photos show just a few examples taken about half-way up the hedge. Damage which encircles a branch obviously kills it.

My question is - what might be causing this sort of damage? We live in a rural part of Suffolk with adjacent neighbouring gardens but open fields opposite and no obvious signs of any animal infestation (but a number of squirrels are in the area).

Any advice much appreciated.
 

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Hello @runner_bean and a big welcome to the forum :) We have just had a conversation about this problem with your privet, and cannot come up with a sensible conclusion. We thought about the privet moth, but the caterpillars only eat the leaves we think. Maybe it is the squirrels having a go :unsure:
What are the chances of setting up a camera to watch out for the culprit - and if you do,let us know what you find ...please.
 

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