Natural Control of Borer Pests – Moth, Beetle & Wasp Larvae

Borer Control with Organic Solutions

Insects called borers can be found worldwide across several unrelated groups of insects and reflects their boring larval stage that affects buds, shoots, bark, trunks of trees, shrubs and other plants. Many will develop into beetles (Coleoptera), moths (Lepidoptera), or wasps (Hymenoptera) with some being incredibly target specific. They destroy internal plant tissue as they feed and mature, which can be noticed by dark or discolored areas with sap and sawdust-like residue clinging to the bark or littering the ground around trees in the case of tree borers, or by visible trails marking the leaves in the case of leafminers.

This page focuses on general borer control. Please scroll down to the bottom of this section for more information about specific borer pests like European Corn Borer, Iris Borer and Squash Vine Borer.

Life Cycle:

Timing of life stages throughout the year will differ depending on the species of borer and your location, but all borers go through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult.

  • Eggs – Laid when adults are mating on or near the host plant. Common egg-laying sites are on or under bark, in leaf litter/detritus on the ground, and in cracks of tree trucks or branches.
  • Larvae – Once hatched they bore into the host plant using digestive enzymes and begin feeding. Feeding will increase progressively as they grow.
  • Pupae – Some borers pupate in or on the host plant; others drop to the soil and pupate there. No damage is done during this stage.
  • Adults – Emerging from the pupae, adults mate and seek out optimal sites for eggs to be laid.


Borers' main economic impact is incurred when the wood or crop is harvested. In the case of timber, it is full of tunnel tracks that reduce the value of the wood and make it unsuitable for veneer. Some species of borers leave wood unusable because it weakens the wood fiber and degrade the wood quality. Agricultural crop damage ranges from stems with bored out contents, to enlarged stems/branches with galls, to damaged buds and fruit.

Pest Borer Control

  • There is no known control for Phytobia, but research has shown that the fastest growing trees and young trees are more susceptible to the miner. Monitoring could help trap the flies as they emerge in the spring. Use blue sticky traps.
  • Agromyzidae can be controlled by Spinosad products like Monterey Insect Spray that interrupt their life cycle as they feed on the sprayed leaves or stems. However, all insecticidal use may also deplete the naturally-occurring enemies of leafminers. Do not use insecticides unless they are labeled for leafminers. Use blue sticky traps to monitor the arrival of flies so that application can be timed correctly.  According to one study, NemAttack (Steinernema carpocapsae or Steinernema feltiae) controlled leafminer larvae when applied to L trifolii. NemaSeek (Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) will control leafminer pupae present in the soil.

Beneficial insects such as Dacnusa sibirica and Diglyphus isaea often only require release once or twice a year if they can establish well for consistent control.

Click on the borer pest control and prevention products below for more info and ordering. 

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