Peach Tree Insects

Overview

Although adding peach trees to the home garden offers both aesthetic appeal and edible fruit crops, the maintenance can be a challenge due to a high susceptibility to insect pests. Through proper care and appropriate preventive maintenance, you can successfully grow vigorous trees and fruit. Identify peach tree insect pests and effective control methods.

Preventive Care

Employ the proper care requirements your peach trees need to avoid insect infestation and to bounce back to health when problems occur. Plant peach trees in full sunlight; keep trees away from objects that may obstruct the sun, like taller trees, according to the Ohio State University Extension. Thriving in well-drained, sandy loam soil, peach trees cannot tolerate wet sites or waterlogged soil; standing water is an ideal environment for fungi that can infect your tree, and trees that cannot withstand excessive water will decline in health due to insufficient nutrient absorption.

Peachtree Borers

The larval form of peachtree borers (Synanthedon exitiosa) are the insect pest culprits responsible for tree damage. Larvae are cream in color and display a brown head. The body measures 1 to 1 1/4 inches in length. In their adult stage, peachtree borers are often mistaken for wasps due to their appearance. With clear wings, the females are blue-black with a metallic appearance and a reddish abdominal stripe; males are black with yellow stripes, according to the Clemson University Extension. Look for a gummy substance and a residue that resembles sawdust called frass on the base of the peach tree trunk. Larvae bore into the soil, feeding on roots and working their way up the tree to an approximate height of 10 inches. Infestation leads to tree death.

White Peach Scale

White peach scale (Pseudaulacaspis pentagona) is one of the most widely observed scale insects on peach trees. These scales do not display legs and are immobile, according to the Clemson University Extension. Adult females are gray to yellow in appearance, with the addition of a spot in red or yellow; the body measures 1/16 to 1/8 inch in length. White peach scales suck plant fluids from stems and twigs, leading to defoliation, destruction of fruit, stunted growth, branch dieback and complete tree death.

Plum Curculio

Plum curculios (Conotrachelus nenuphar) are beetles that act as pests on peach trees. These beetles display spotty brown bodies with a bumpy surface and a curved face, according to the Clemson University Extension. Beginning in a larval stage, the beetle initially measures approximately 1/4 inch in length and reaches up to 1/2 inch in maturity when the body no longer displays legs and becomes smooth. Body color changes to yellow or gray. Plum curculios infest peach trees at all ages; the adult cuts a slit in the peach fruit to use as a place to lay eggs. The area she carves out is in the shape of the letter D. Once hatched, the larvae ruin the fruit through feeding. These beetles will fall from the tree, so to verify diagnosis, place a light-colored fabric beneath the tree and shake branches; the beetles will be easy to spot.

Control

For peach trees and any insect infestation, always use cultural methods of keeping your tree healthy; remove and destroy any damaged plant parts and sanitize pruning tools between each cut. Avoid creating wounds on the tree to avoid areas for insect entrance. For peachtree borer control, use a "pre-plant dip" of insecticide as well as insecticide application every August to the tree trunk, according to the Clemson University Extension. Use permethrin or esfenvalerate before the two weeks prior to harvest. For white peach scale control, apply horticultural oil before budbreak; do not apply unless temperatures have exceeded 40 degrees F. Spray the tree with oil at a 1 to 2 percent solution until it drips from the tree. For management of plum curculio, apply three treatments of carbaryl or malathion to the tree beginning as soon as flower petals fall from the tree; apply in the middle of June, in the end of June and in the beginning of July.

Keywords: peach tree insect, peach tree borer, peach insect control

About this Author

Tarah Damask's writing career, beginning in 2003, includes experience as a fashion writer/editor for Neiman Marcus, short fiction publications in "North Texas Review," a self-published novel, band biographies, charter school curriculum, and articles for eHow. She has a love for words and is an avid observer. Damask holds a Master of Arts in English and creative writing from the University of North Texas.