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Insect & Disease Control for Fruit Trees

By Carole Ellis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Without proper insect and disease control, this flower will never make it to fruit.
an apple-tree flower image by alri from Fotolia.com

Fruit trees are extremely delicate. At any stage in their lifelong development and in their yearly flower and fruit development, insects or disease can damage the crop or even eliminate that year's yield entirely. Understanding the impact that different types of insects and diseases can have on a fruit crop as well as the ramifications of different forms and methods of control will help you customize an effective insect and disease control plan for your fruit trees.


Sprays are one of the most popular forms of insect and disease control. Natural means of pest control include the use of wasps and ladybugs to control other pest populations. In some cases, you may be able to increase a tree's resistance to insects and disease by helping it develop in a healthy way that prevents it from succumbing to infection or sacrificing its fruit crop during the defense efforts.


Spray control methods involve killing spores and pests before an infection can occur. They are applied throughout the growing season to prevent any stage of the tree's fruiting cycle from being impacted by the insects or disease. Natural methods can often be applied only a few times throughout the season and then allowed to run their course since wasps and ladybugs will remain in an area as long as there is a problem population. When it comes to growing hardy trees, watering thoroughly but as seldom as possible will help your fruit trees develop deep roots that will allow you to water less frequently and keep fungi and bacteria too water-starved to present a problem. Making sure your trees get plenty of fertilizer and healthy growth medium will also help them resist insect damage, although you still need to take steps to eradicate the insect population.


When you are selecting a method of insect and disease control for fruit trees, there are several issues unique to these crops that you must bear in mind. First, do not hurt the bees. Without them, your trees will not be able to pollinate and you will not end up with fruit. Some pesticides are harmless to bees, while others must be applied at certain times of day to avoid interfering with these beneficial insects' work. Also, once the fruit has started to develop, you will need to check FDA guidelines carefully to make sure that your insecticides and fungicides are not dangerous for fruit application. Some may make your fruit inedible.

Time Frame

Most chemical methods of insect and disease control must be applied regularly and with total coverage on a frequent basis to get results and keep fruit trees free of problems. If you get frequent rain, you will need to apply more often. Different temperatures will also impact the effectiveness and time frame for chemical controls. With natural controls, they will start working immediately and work until the problem is gone. However, if the problem recurs, you may need additional preventative insect populations because the initial population will leave once the problem (their food source) no longer exists.


Pesticides must be mixed and applied based on specific manufacturer's instructions. Additionally, a good rule of thumb is to simply not apply insecticides during bee season (when the flowers on your fruit tree are in bloom) to avoid killing the bee population.