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9 Types of Apricot Tree Pests You Need to Be Aware Of (and How to Get Rid Of Them)

If you are planning to plant an apricot tree, it is important to know all about apricot pests. A successful home orchardist knows what to look for in terms of pests and diseases and checks their fruit trees regularly.

If you have an apricot tree in your garden, keep an eye out for signs of pest infestation. Early detection can make all the difference in the yield and lifespan of your tree.

In this article, we’ll talk about some of the most common apricot tree pests and how to get rid of them.

How Do Apricot Tree Pests Hurt Your Tree?

Clusters of orange-yellow apricots on tree branches.  Knowing how to deal with apricot tree pests is important in order to enjoy the fruits of your apricot tree-growing labor.
Knowing about apricot tree pests will help you to enjoy a harvest of ripe, juicy apricots each year.

Apricot trees can be affected by a variety of insects and pests. Some of these cause only superficial damage, such as pitted fruit or withered leaves. Others can damage your tree extensively, destroying the year’s fruit crop, spreading to other trees in your garden, or even destroying your apricot tree permanently. 

1. Sap-Feeding Insects

Sap-feeding insects are not a single, distinct species. Rather, the term refers to a variety of pests that infest trees (often fruit trees like apricots) and drain them of their sap.

What Are Sap-Feeding Insects?

Closeup of scale on an oak tree branch.  Scale is among the sap-feeding type of apricot tree pests.
Scale on an oak tree branch.

Sap-feeding insects are some of the most common pests you will find in your garden and are a regular sight on apricot trees. In general, the term refers to mites, aphids, mealybugs, and scale insects. 

One big problem with sap-feeding insects is that they can be hard to spot. They are extremely small and good at hiding, often disguising themselves in the soil or on the underside of leaves. Experienced gardeners will tell you it takes some time to notice the telltale signs of an infestation. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Sap-feeding insects, as their name implies, literally drink the sap from your tree. This can eventually cause the apricot tree’s leaves to turn yellow and fall off prematurely, weakening the tree and reducing its ability to produce fruit while also making the tree more vulnerable to other pests and disease. 

Other telltale signs of an infestation include sticky residue on the trunk or leaves or a large number of ants around the tree. 

How To Get Rid Of Sap-Feeding Insects

One of the best ways to get rid of sap-feeding insects on your apricot tree is to apply neem oil and horticultural oil every week for the growing season after you first spot the insects. Insecticidal soap works well against certain sap-feeding insects, including aphids and mealybugs.

2. Mites

Mites fall under the broad category of sap-feeding insects. However, because they affect the tree in unique ways and need a unique control method, they have been included in a separate category.

What Are Mites?

A closeup of strawberry plant leaves infested with red spider mites.  Mites are an other type of apricot tree pests to be aware of.
Red spider mite on strawberry plant.

Mites are tiny arachnids that feed on the sap of trees. They do not cause sap “bleeding” like other similar insects. They are extremely hard to spot on their own due to their tiny size. The best way to diagnose a mite infestation is spotting the distinct webs that they leave behind wherever they feed.

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Mites can cause extensive damage to an apricot tree. They drain it of vital nutrients, causing leaves to wither and fall off prematurely. If they infest a tree during a time of new growth, they can wreak havoc on the vulnerable new shoots, leading to deformed or ruined fruit. 

How To Get Rid Of Mites

Getting rid of mites is a dedicated process, but thankfully it is straightforward. In mild cases, you may be able simply to hose them off your tree. You can also apply a 1-2 percent insecticidal soap during the spring, when apricots first begin to fruit.

3. Foliage-Feeding Caterpillars

Like Sap-Feeding Insects, Foliage-Feeding Caterpillars are no single pest. Rather, the term refers to any and all caterpillars that infest fruit trees and attack foliage.

What Are Foliage-Feeding Caterpillars?

Closeup of a nest of Eastern Tent Caterpillars, a type of foliage-feeding apricot tree pest.
Eastern Tent Caterpillars.

Foliage-Feeding Caterpillars can refer to any one of several caterpillar species. Some common types include leafrollers, sawflies, and cabbage loopers. These vary in detail, but all of them essentially attack your tree in the same way. 

Unfortunately, caterpillars can be difficult to spot in a fruit tree. They are very good at hiding in leaves and branches while feasting on its nutrients. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Caterpillars not only attack and eat apricot tree leaves, but also the fruit. They can destroy a fruit crop by eating through the outside skin and burrowing into the fruit. Meanwhile, they can also cause your apricot tree to turn yellow and drop leaves prematurely as they eat them.

How To Get Rid Of Foliage-Feeding Caterpillars

The first and most basic step you should take is to remove any visible caterpillars by hand. Take them out of the area so that they don’t reenter your tree. Then, apply a pesticide called bacillus thuringiensis. This is an extremely effective poison that kills caterpillars but does not affect the leaves or fruit of the apricot tree. Because it fades quickly from leaves, you will need to reapply it every few days to catch any new larvae or remaining caterpillars.

4. Borers

Borers are larvae from certain types of insects and moths. They can be an extremely difficult pest to treat, since, as their name implies, they bore into the trunk and destroy the tree internally. Because of this, prevention is usually the preferred method of avoiding borers. 

What Are Borers?

Closeup of an adult Apricot-Peachtree Borer,  one of several borer types of apricot tree pests.
An adult Apricot-Peachtree Borer.

Borers are the larvae of certain species of beetles and moths. These insects lay their eggs on fruit trees. When they hatch in the spring, borers tunnel their way into the tree, feasting on its nutrients. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Borers can cause severe damage to an apricot tree. By creating tunnels inside the tree, they can drain it of its nutrients, eventually leading — in severe cases — to tree girdling. Girdling causes a tree to die altogether. Even moderate borer infestations can cause damage, including stunting a tree’s growth. 

How To Get Rid Of Borers

While borers are extremely difficult to get rid of once they’re in your apricot tree, the good news is that they are much simpler to prevent. The insects that lay these eggs choose trees that are in distress. By protecting your apricot tree from wind and sun damage and keeping it well-nourished with good soil, water, and fertilizer, you’ll do a lot to protect your apricot tree. 

Pruning your tree in the winter will get rid of any eggs that have been laid there. Make sure to remove and destroy any pruned branches or foliage so that larvae don’t reinfest your tree.

5. Aphids

What Are Aphids?

Closeup of green aphids and a couple black beetle insects.  Aphids are a particularly troublesome type of apricot tree pest.
Green aphids.

Aphids are tiny, bright green insects that fall under the broad category of sap feeders.They can infest trees multiple times a year, causing different types of damage whenever they do. They suck juices from fruit trees, draining them of vital nutrients. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Aphids are a unique pest because they tend to infest apricot trees in the spring, then move to different fruit trees in the summer and back to apricots in the autumn. In the spring, their feeding can slow the growth of new shoots. In the autumn, they can cause fruit to become deformed or malnourished. 

Aphids also leave sticky residue called honeydew behind. This can attract fungus and mold, causing your tree to become infected.

How To Get Rid Of Aphids

Your best course of action is to take care of aphids before the population gets too large. In mild infestations, it may be enough simply to spray your apricot tree with a jet of water from the hose to remove aphids. Avoid over-watering or over-fertilizing your tree, as this can attract the pests. Insecticides applied later in the season can be effective.

6. Japanese Beetles

Closeup of a Japanese Beetle.  In addition to being an apricot tree pest, these beetles wreak havoc on about 300 species of plants, including fruit trees and roses.

What Are Japanese Beetles?

Japanese beetles are a common garden pest that can cause a huge amount of destruction. These shiny, green-headed beetles eat their way through fruits and foliage, causing extensive damage. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Japanese beetles are constantly eating, so you will spot their damage right away. Almost immediately, you’ll notice large holes in foliage and even clusters of beetles on fruit as well. Though they can destroy a garden, they can also be controlled more easily than some types of apricot tree pests.

How To Get Rid Of Japanese Beetles

To get rid of Japanese beetles, adopt a three-step approach: remove them manually from your tree, weed extensively to avoid attracting them, and apply pesticide.

7. Leafroller

What Are Leafrollers?

Closeup of a leaf with a Leafroller caterpillar on it -- one of the less-severe types of apricot tree pests.
A Leafroller caterpillar on a green leaf,

Leafrollers are small caterpillars that infest trees like apricots. The telltale sign is leaves that are curled in on themselves, creating a nest that protects the caterpillars from predators. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

The good news is that leafrollers don’t usually cause a huge amount of damage. They certainly cause cosmetic damage and can stunt the growth of your tree in severe infestations. However, it takes a lot to get to that point.

How To Get Rid Of Leafrollers

Usually, it is sufficient to remove leafrollers manually and cut away the leaves that are affected. If the infestation is severe, apply bacillus thuringiensis to kill the caterpillars. 

8. Oriental Fruit Moth

What Are Oriental Fruit Moths?

Closeup of an adult Codling Moth, which is very similar in appearance to the Oriental Fruit Moth.
An adult Codling Moth, very similar in appearance to an Orient Fruit Moth.

Oriental fruit moths are moths that lay their eggs in many varieties of fruit tree, including apricots, plums, peaches, and more. The larvae burrow into the fruit, eating it from the inside.

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Oriental fruit moth larvae can destroy a fruit crop by eating it from the inside. This usually happens starting in the third or fourth generation. Early generations attack new shoots, but as they continue laying eggs, they can devastate a fruit tree. 

How To Get Rid Of Oriental Fruit Moths

The good news is that there is usually plenty of time to recognize and eliminate an Oriental fruit moth infestation. Fruit damage rarely happens until later generations. During early infestations, you can greatly reduce the infestation by setting pheromone traps.

9. Plum Curculio

What Are Plum Curculio?

Closeup of a Plum Curculio -- despite "Plum" being in the name, this is also an apricot tree pest as well as pest of other types of fruit.

Plum curculio are snout-nosed beetles that lay their eggs in fruit trees. The larvae burrow into the fruit, causing extensive damage. 

How Can They Hurt Your Tree?

Plum curculio larvae can destroy apricots from the inside, eating holes in the skin. The fruit becomes pitted and misshapen and may fall off the tree prematurely. 

How To Get Rid Of Plum Curculio

The first step in getting rid of plum curculio is manually removing any visible insects. Shake the tree to remove affected fruit and clean up surrounding soil. Destroy the fruit and foliage that contains larvae. In severe infestations, you may need to apply insecticide.

Spraying For Apricot Tree Pests 

You should spray apricot trees annually in the autumn after the fruit has been harvested. This is also a good time to prune your tree to remove any nesting larvae. There are many commercial insecticides that are well-suited to apricot trees, including both standard and natural varieties.

FAQ

How Can I Increase My Apricot Yield? 

The best way to increase your apricot yield is to provide it with proper care and keep an eye out for pests and disease. Most apricot trees are self-fertile, but you can increase the amount of fruit from a single tree by planting a second one nearby. 

When Should You Spray Apricot Trees For Pests?

The best time to spray apricot trees for pests is in the autumn and the winter. This will kill any eggs that have been laid for overwintering.

Conclusion 

It is important to check your apricot tree regularly to make sure it is growing well and is free from pests and disease. Meanwhile, learn the telltale signs of infestation so that you can spot problems early and get started on treating them. Doing so will reduce your risk of losing your fruit crop or even your entire tree.

Have you ever had a pest infestation in your garden? Tell us how you treated it in the comments! 

To learn about apricot tree diseases and how to treat and prevent them, click this link.