Greater Peachtree Borer

Synanthedon exitiosa

Peachtree Borer Control

The Greater Peachtree Borer is also known as the Clearwing Peachtree borer. They will attack plum, prune, cherry, almond, apricot, and nectarine trees but they prefer peaches. It is a native North American pest that can seriously damage its host plants. The adult form is a clear winged moth with a 1¼" wingspan. The females are a dark, steel blue with a wide orange band and opaque front wings. The males are also steel blue, but they have several yellow bands, both pairs of their wings are clear, and are slightly smaller than the females.

Life Cycle & Appearance

Female Peachtree Borers lay their eggs on the tree trunks or at the base of the tree and lay 500-600 eggs on average. Upon hatching, the larvae bore just beneath the bark near the ground level and into the roots to feed on growing tissue and inner bark. Larvae are the damaging life stage of the Peachtree Borer and are reddish-brown with pale to white segments that give them a ringed appearance. Their head and thorax are dark brown to gray. Mature larvae can grow up to 12 mm long and undergo a pupal stage that lasts roughly 28 days. Once they pupate, the adult Peachtree Borer moths begin to emerge and mate in April or May and continue to do so through September.

Damage Symptoms

Young trees are particularly susceptible to borers because they can damage large portions of smaller trees' vascular tissue. Since the larvae feed in galleries (tunnels bored in the wood), accumulating gum, frass and bark are generally the first signs of an infestation as the detritus is pushed out of the galleries. Older trees tend to be more resistant to borer damage, but many exhibit yellowing of the foliage, stunted growth, partial die-back and/or loss of vigor and fruit production.

Controlling Peachtree Borers

  • Once dormant season pruning is complete, spray trees with Horticultural Oil.
  • Apply Tree Paint early in the season to the trunks of susceptible trees to reduce bark cracking, sun stress and suitable egg-laying areas.
  • Pheromone traps can be used as effective monitoring tools, but should not be relied upon to control a Peachtree Borer population.
  • Applications of Beneficial Nematodes (Steinernema carpocapsae and Heterorhabditis bacteriophora) have shown positive results in controlling Peachtree Borer larvae when applied directly to bark cracks with frass buildup.
  • When adults are present, release Trichogramma Moth Egg Parasites to control egg populations.
  • Insecticide applications to the tree trunk can be made to kill the eggs already present. Neem Oil, Pyrethrins and Azadirachtin are all suitable for controlling peachtree borers. Application location should be isolated to where damage or pests are seen to limit effects on the environment.
  • Mating disruption using pheromone dispensers has proven to be the most effective borer damage control.
  • Overall tree health is paramount in fending off pest insect populations, so fertilizing, watering and environmental conditions should be monitored continuously.
  • Clear ground cover and vegetation away from the base of the tree as both will provide additional protection for eggs and larvae.

Photo courtesy of Clemson University Department of Entomology, Soils & Plant Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service.

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