Peachtree Borer

What is Peachtree Borer?

The peachtree borer feeds under the bark of a tree, cutting gouges that can eventually seriously weaken or kill the tree.  The two common species of peach tree borer are greater (Synanthedon exitiosa) and lesser, (Synanthedon pictipes). Their symptoms and control strategies are the same, so they will be discussed interchangeably.  Attacking the lower portion of the main stem, symptoms of peachtree borer are often difficult to notice until the infestation has progressed, especially on trees in unmanaged areas.  In most cases, periodic insecticide control is needed to maintain tree vigor.

Treatment Strategy

Peachtree borer prefers trees that are stressed due to drought. Therefore, treatment involves both supporting tree health with good cultural practices like watering and mulching, as well as providing insect control with bark-sprayed insecticides.

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Peachtree Borer Treatment Option 1

Cultural Practices

Watering

Adequate water is a key factor in maintaining healthy trees.  A slow, deep watering event once every few weeks during dry conditions helps maintain soil moisture levels and minimizes the stress that invites insects.

Mulching

Mulch is very beneficial for all trees because it reduces competition with turf and moderates soil temperature and moisture levels. The addition of 3 inches of wood chips or shredded bark out to the drip line can have a very beneficial effect by holding in moisture and promoting healthy fibrous roots.

Application Type - Cultural Practices

DIY Equipment Needed: 

• Soaker hose (for watering)

• Mulch

• Rake and shovel

• Low nitrogen fertilizer

Peachtree Borer Treatment Option 2

Insecticides

When the use of good cultural practices fails or if infestations are severe, more aggressive action must be taken to prevent tree death.  Peachtree borer can be difficult to control because soil applied systemic insecticides are not able to move into the tree where borers feed.  Instead, you must spray the bark of infested trees with Tengard or Carbaryl to control early larval stages as they begin boring through the bark. Generally, two applications will be necessary to gain control, especially in southern states where the insect completes two life cycles each year.  Monitoring is an important means of determining spray timing. Optimal timing for bark sprays is when most adults have emerged.  This can be determined by counting adults found in pheromone traps near your tree.  Typically, when you find 50-75 peachtree moths in the traps it is time to spray.  Contact a Tree Geek to learn more about pheromone traps.

Application MethodBark spray

DIY Equipment/Product Needed:

Carbaryl or Tengard

• Hand pump sprayer with wand

• Safety glasses or goggles

• Gloves

Peachtree Borer DIY Kit

Option 1

Application Type - Cultural Practices

DIY Equipment Needed: 

• Soaker hose (for watering)

• Mulch

• Rake and shovel

• Low nitrogen fertilizer

Option 2

Application Method – Bark spray

DIY Equipment/Product Needed:

• Carbaryl or Tengard

• Hand pump sprayer with wand

• Safety glasses or goggles

• Gloves

How Is It Spread?

Biology

It takes one full year for peachtree borers to complete their lifecycle.  Greater peachtree borer has one generation per year, while lesser peachtree borer can complete two generations per year.  In the spring, nearly mature larvae resume feeding after overwintering underneath the bark.  Pupation begins during the summer, with adults emerging about one month after pupation begins.  After mating, adult females lay eggs in bark and soil cracks.  Eggs hatch in about 10 days; larvae emerge and begin feeding.

Susceptible Trees

The primary hosts are peach and nectarine trees. However, peachtree borer is also known to attack apricot, cherry, and plum trees.

Symptoms

  • Wet spots on the bark, most often near the base of the tree, with oozing gummy sap containing sawdust-like excrement.
  • Most injuries occur on the lower trunk beneath the soil line.
  • Leaves on a portion of the tree may turn yellow and wilt, often leading to die back in the canopy.
  • Pupal chambers may be found at the base of the tree.

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