Are peach tree pests running rampant throughout your garden or orchard? Fortunately, not all is lost. There are various ways to eliminate these pests and salvage your crop.
Whether you’re dealing with infestations or trying to stay on the front foot, here are 13 common peach tree pests. Continue reading to learn more about them, how to spot infestations, and how to keep them away for good!
1. Oriental Fruit Moths
Oriental fruit moths start off as miniature larvae that are roughly 1/16-inch long. They grow into 1/2-inch caterpillars before reaching their final evolution—brownish-gray moths with 1/2-inch wingspans. While these pests primarily feast on stone fruits, they are known to disrupt pears and apples as well.
How to Spot an Oriental Fruit Moth Infestation
Both oriental fruit moths and their larvae form can cause damage to your peach trees. Keep an eye out for damaged stems and small holes in your peaches. While not particularly large, caterpillars and moths are usually visible against the backdrop of orange peaches.
How to Get Rid of Oriental Fruit Moths
To get rid of oriental fruit moths, prune your peach trees roughly three to six inches below the damage. These peach tree pests may also respond to certain horticultural oils, insecticides, and pheromone traps.
2. Plum Curculio
The plum curculio beetle is known for its unusual appearance, sporting a bumpy shell and pointed snout. The adult insect terrorizes peach trees by piercing the skin of the fruit and laying eggs inside. Its grub form is equally destructive—tunneling throughout the fruit and feeding on its flesh.
How to Spot a Plum Curculio Infestation
Crescent-shaped scarring on fruit is the telltale sign of a plum curculio infestation. Premature fruit drop is another common sign. Grubs may be difficult to spot, as they do most of their damage inside the fruit itself. Adult beetles, on the other hand, fly from tree to tree and are often easier to spot.
How to Get Rid of Plum Curculio
To manage a plum curculio infestation, handpick or jar adult beetles as you spot them. You may also lay sticky traps around your trees. Be sure to dispose of any infected fruit and keep your peach trees well pruned going forward. To prevent future infestations, consider using a carbaryl or phosmet insecticide spray.
3. Peach Tree Borers
There are two peach tree borers that may threaten your crops—the greater peach tree borer and the lesser peach tree borer. Both peach tree pests, as their name suggests, will tunnel through your peach trees and weaken them from within. Borer larvae have a white, grub-like appearance, while adults resemble small wasps.
How to Spot a Peach Tree Borer Infestation
As borers do most of their damage as larvae—after burrowing inside trunks and limbs—they may be difficult to spot. They do, however, leave trails of sticky sap and small borer holes in their wake.
How to Get Rid of Peach Tree Borers
Peach tree borers are nearly impossible to stop once they have successfully burrowed inside tree trunks and limbs. Therefore, prevention is key. As the growing season begins, apply an insecticide spray—such as permethrin—to your tree trunks and lower limbs.
4. Tarnished Plant Bugs
The adult tarnished plant bug is a 1/4-inch long, winged insect that feeds on fruit and blossoms. Much like stink bugs, these common peach tree pests damage your trees by piercing the fruit and sucking its contents.
How to Spot a Tarnished Plant Bug Infestation
This brownish-yellow bug is easily identifiable due to its signature white triangle located just below its head. The tarnished plant bug will also leave cat-facing injuries across vulnerable fruit and trails of toxins around feeding sites.
How to Get Rid of Tarnished Plant Bugs
For prevention, keep your peach trees clear of any weeds and extra vegetation. You can also apply a natural insecticidal soap or pesticide to your trees during the pre-bloom phase. To get rid of tarnished plant bugs, handpick them from your trees or lay traps as needed.
5. Scale Insects
Peach trees are especially susceptible to two types of scale insects—white peach scale and San Jose scale. While small, these insects are some of the most destructive peach tree pests. Untreated infestations often result in dead fruit, limbs, and even entire trees.
How to Spot a Scale Insect Infestation
As scale insects are roughly 1/16-inch in diameter, small infestations may go undetected. Heavy infestations may resemble trails of white or gray bumps. Look out for the main signs of a scale infestation—white or black sticky wax, fruit drop, and weakened branches.
How to Get Rid of Scale Insects
Because these peach tree pests reproduce at a rapid rate, you must act as soon as you suspect an infestation. Applying horticultural oil sprays during the late winter or early spring will help keep these peach tree pests away. Otherwise, apply insecticides during the spring and summer to help control scale populations.
6. Granulate Ambrosia Beetles
These stout, dark-red, bee-like pests emerge during early spring and gravitate toward young trees. Unlike most peach tree pests, granulate ambrosia beetles do most of their damage through the disease they leave behind.
How to Spot a Granulate Ambrosia Beetle Infestation
The main sign of a granulate ambrosia beetle infestation is the needle-like sawdust columns that sprout up from limbs. Granted, these columns quickly disappear once the wind blows. Other signs include underdeveloped trees and wilted foliage.
How to Get Rid of Granulate Ambrosia Beetles
The best way to manage granulate ambrosia beetle infestations is to spray your trunks and limbs with permethrin early on. Once a tree has been infected, cut it down and burn the wood to prevent further spreading.
There are several species of nematodes that target peach trees—including ring, root-knot, and dagger nematodes. While most peach tree pests feed on branches and fruit, these wormlike pests prefer to prey on root systems. Tree growth is usually stunted as a result.
How to Spot a Nematode Infestation
Nematode infestations are difficult to spot as they are often hidden below your soil. Over time, however, you may notice discolored foliage, stunted tree growth, and smaller fruit yields.
How to Get Rid of Nematodes
While you may be able to keep nematode populations at bay with certain pesticide sprays, preventative methods are most effective. The best solutions include purchasing nematode-resistant trees, having your soil tested regularly, and fumigating your soil before planting.
8. Fall Webworms
During their larvae stage, fall webworms meddle with not only peach trees but also most other types of deciduous trees. Fortunately, any damage that these small, translucent peach tree pests inflict is usually not as devastating as it may appear.
How to Spot a Fall Webworm Infestation
Fall webworm infestations are easy to identify. When these peach tree pests are present, they will spin large webs and hang them from the ends of branches. Because they also like to munch on foliage, you may notice holes in many of your leaves.
How to Get Rid of Fall Webworms
There are a few different ways to effectively manage fall webworm populations. The first is to simply remove the webs from your trees. You may also use horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps to stop fall webworms in their tracks and prevent future infestations.
9. Tent Caterpillars
Tent caterpillars are slender, wormlike peach tree pests that like to live among your fruit by constructing large webs. Unlike fall webworms, however, tent caterpillars will usually spin their webs in the crevices where tree limbs intersect.
How to Spot a Tent Caterpillar Infestation
While similar in many ways to fall webworms, tent caterpillars have a much more colorful and varied appearance. You can identify them by their fuzzy, black exteriors, as well as by their striped and spotted backs. Chewed leaves is another giveaway.
How to Get Rid of Tent Caterpillars
If you spot a tent caterpillar infestation, start by raking the webs from between your tree limbs. You may also treat your peach trees with Bacillus thuringiensis or certain insecticidal sprays.
Aphids are not only common peach tree pests but also pests of many other fruit trees. These tiny critters thrive on plant juices, robbing your peach trees of their nutrients in the process. They are also known to reproduce at an alarming rate.
How to Spot an Aphid Infestation
Because these microscopic insects are difficult to spot outside of large infestations, watch for signs of their presence. The most obvious sign is the trails of sticky honeydew that these pests leave behind. This honeydew may eventually develop into black, sooty mold.
How to Get Rid of Aphids
Fortunately, there are a variety of insecticidal soaps and horticultural sprays that will effectively stop these peach tree pests. Apply them to not only all of your tree trunks and limbs but also all of their foliage.
11. Stink Bugs
Depending on where you live, you might spot the occasional stink bug around the house. While these brown, shield-shaped insects seem relatively harmless, they can have a devastating impact on your peaches.
How to Spot a Stink Bug Infestation
Like tarnished plant bugs, stink bugs are catfacing peach tree pests. This means that they will leave their signature dimpled scarring across your peaches after puncturing them and sucking their contents.
How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs
When dealing with a minor infestation, you can handpick stink bugs from your peach trees and dispose of them. It’s also helpful to get rid of any weeds or excess vegetation surrounding your trees. For severe infestations, malathion and permethrin are two of the more effective insect control solutions.
As its name suggests, the leafroller likes to make its home among tree foliage. It will often spin webs around a leaf to create a cocoon for not only itself but also its larvae. At full maturity, leafrollers measure roughly one-inch long and will take on a shade of brown, green, or yellow.
How to Spot a Leafroller Infestation
After these peach tree pests and their larvae have fed on leaves and their nutrients, those leaves will become skeletonized. While your peaches are likely to remain unaffected, you may notice the occasional fruit scarring.
How to Get Rid of Leafrollers
For small infestations, simply pluck any webbed foliage and skeletonized leaves from your peach trees. For large infestations, you may use an insecticidal spray or horticultural oil.
While thrips are often found among citrus trees, some gravitate to peaches. These slender, winged peach tree pests grow up to 1/8-inch long and are either black or brown at full maturity.
How to Spot a Thrip Infestation
Thrips leave a unique type of scarring behind—a “halo” ring that may appear on foliage or the fruit itself. While a single thrip might be too small to identify, large populations will stand out against tree foliage.
How to Get Rid of Thrips
Because thrips have several natural predators—including mites—encouraging them may help reduce infestations. If you’re struggling to get thrip populations under control, apply a natural pyrethrin spray or set out sticky traps.
Put Peach Tree Pests in Their Place!
Are you tired of these peach tree pests and the damage they cause to your crop each year? Use some of the solutions above to keep them far away from your peach trees.
For more information about peaches, how to grow them, and much more, be sure to visit our Peaches page!
- About the Author
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Ben Morgan is a husband, father, and writer for Apple Pie Media. He grew up in Tasmania, Australia, a largely rural territory that has earned the nickname, “The Apple Isle,” for its many apple orchards. Some of Ben’s fondest memories include family trips to one of many local orchards, where he would enjoy plucking and eating fresh fruits with his younger siblings.
Today, Ben, his wife, and daughter love to visit their local South Carolina farmers market on the weekends. After discovering a new variety of fruit or veggie, he looks forward to sitting down at his computer to share his knowledge and experiences with other aspiring green thumbs.