Pest description and crop damage Adult male is a steel-blue, clear-winged moth. The female is similar in appearance, but has smoky-colored wings and an orange band around her abdomen. Adult flight is usually from late June through September and eggs are laid at or on the base of the fruit tree. Larvae burrow in the crown and roots, girdle young trees, and weaken others. A single larva is capable of girdling a newly-planted fruit tree. Full-grown larvae are 1 to 1.5 inch long with a whitish body and a brown head.
Biology and life history The borer overwinters as a larvae under the tree bark, usually below the soil surface. As temperatures rise above 50°F in the spring, larvae resume feeding on the tissues under the bark. Reaching maturity during May through June, the larvae pupate. Adult moths emerge beginning in June and continue to emerge through September. Eggs are laid quickly after mating. The young larvae hatch after 8 to 10 days and bore immediately into the base of the tree. Larvae in the bark above the soil surface usually do not survive the winter in cold areas.
Pest monitoring In late fall or early spring, scout for signs of borer infestation and larval feeding near the base of the tree trunk near the soil surface. Larval presence can best be detected by globs of gum/sap mixed with a granular brown frass that appear at the base of infested fruit trees.
Protect the base of the fruit tree from larval entry by placing a plastic or metal cone or barrier around it before egg laying begins. The cone should be pushed 1 to 2 inches into the soil and should fit snugly around the trunk at the top to prevent the tiny larvae from getting beneath it. Alternatively, if there are only one or a few peach trees in a home orchard, it is quicker and cheaper to control this insect by "worming." Use a pocket knife, wire or some pointed instrument to remove dirt around the tree and dig out the larvae.
Spray applications and, more importantly, pesticide residues on the trunk of the tree can prevent newly-hatched larvae from boring beneath the tree bark and entering the woody trunk where they are protected from all insecticide sprays.
Management-chemical control: HOME USE
- azadirachtin-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- kaolin-When sprayed on leaves, trunks, and fruit, kaolin acts as a repellant to some insects. Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
- pyrethrins-Some formulations are OMRI-listed for organic use.
Management-chemical control: COMMERCIAL USE
Spring and summer sprays
- esfenvalerate (Asana XL) at 2 to 5.8 fl oz/100 gal water (4.8 to 14.5 fl oz/a). PHI 14 days. REI 12 hr. Extremely toxic to fish and aquatic invertebrates; avoid spray drift and runoff to surface waters.
- Isomate P pheromone at 100 to 250 dispensers/a. This is a synthetic insect pheromone dispenser that disrupts insect mating. Dispensers must be placed in the orchard before adult mating and egg-laying flight begins in late June or when the first moths are captured in pheromone traps. Careful scouting and monitoring are necessary to use this product effectively.