How to Get Rid of Butterflies in Peach Trees

Overview

Many garden enthusiasts select certain plants to attract butterflies in order to enjoy the colorful butterflies flitting around their gardens. However, butterfly larvae, or caterpillars, can actually cause quite a bit of damage to peach trees. Before metamorphosing into butterflies, caterpillars eat nonstop, gobbling up the leaves, flowers and fruits of peach trees, causing sometimes severe defoliation. You can control caterpillar invasions of your peach trees using several methods.

Step 1

Prune away all badly damaged and infested branches of the peach tree. Destroy the infested wood.

Step 2

Thin out the fruiting buds on the peach tree in the spring. Remove any double or triple fruiting buds on a single stem so that you have a single bud on each stem.

Step 3

Treat the tree with Bacillus thuringiensis or "BTK," a bacterial spray that kills only caterpillars. Mix the BTK solution and apply it to the peach tree according to the instructions on the label.

Step 4

Spray all the leaves on the infested peach tree thoroughly, including the undersides of the leaves, as well as any flowers that the caterpillars are feeding on. Repeat the BTK application as needed if caterpillars infest the peach tree again.

Step 5

Water your peach trees deeply once a week during the summer and fall to keep the tree strong. Water the trees more frequently during dry spells or droughts.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't feed your lawn a high-nitrogen fertilizer near the caterpillar-infested peach trees, because the nitrogen will harm the defoliated tree. Instead, feed your lawn and peach trees a granular complete fertilizer in the fall.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning tools
  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Garden hose

References

  • Golden Harvest Organics: Natural Insect Control -- Caterpillars -- Destructive
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Lands: A Guide to Managing Tree Fruit Pests in the Home Garden

Who Can Help

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Lands: Caterpillars
  • Koppert Biological Systems: Pest Roster
Keywords: peach tree caterpillars, caterpillar plant infestation, get rid of caterpillars

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.