Grape Vine Tree Pest Problems

Written by erin maurer
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Grape Vine Tree Pest Problems
Grapevine pests may damage plants or fruits. (Grapevine image by Tomasz Pawlowski from

Grapevines produce a diverse crop for the United States. The grapes grown on these vines can be used for table grapes, juice, wine or raisins, depending on the type. Vines may be used to weave baskets and other crafts. Grapevine pests are commonly divided into four main categories according to the type of damage done.

Bud Eaters

One type of common grapevine pest feeds upon the buds of a blooming grapevine. Some examples of bud-eating grapevine pests include climbing cutworms, flea beetles and the grape bud beetle. According to the University of Rhode Island, the name "climbing cutworm" is used to describe many types of moth larvae. These larvae attack buds at night and eat all of the bud's tissue. Though usually not serious, a cutworm infestation can cause long-term damage if left untreated. Flea beetles bore their way inside young buds and eat them from the inside out. Beetles are most likely to attack vines close to wooded areas. Adult grape bud beetles attack buds that are just beginning to open. They feed upon the immature leaves and flowers growing inside the buds.

Foliage Eaters

Foliage-eating pests make a meal out of the leaves and vines of a grapevine plant. Some examples of foliage-eating pests include leaphoppers, sharpshooters and Western grapeleaf skeletonizers, according to the University of California. Young and adult leafhoppers eat leaf cells, causing yellow spots to appear on the leaf. Sharpshooters eat the vines of a grapevine plant and inject the bacterium Xylella fastidiosa into grapevines. This bacterium can cause Pierce's disease in grapes and can kill vines within three years. Western grapeleaf skeletonizers feed upon the underside of the leaf, causing leaves to turn white. These thin, papery leaves eventually turn brown and fall off.

Fruit Eaters

Examples of fruit-eating pests include grape berry moths and European grapevine moths. The grape berry moth, primarily found in vineyards on the East Coast, lays eggs on new grapes. Within eight days, the eggs hatch and feed on the grape. West Coast growers are dealing with a fairly new pest, the European grapevine moth. According to the Wines and Vines website, this pest was first discovered in the Napa Valley of California in 2009. It feeds upon grape clusters, and larvae burrow their way inside of grapes.

Foliage-Damaging Pests

The final classification of grapevine pests are those that damage leaves, stems and vines but do not feed upon them. According to the University of Rhode Island, this category of pests includes the grape cane gallmaker, the grape cane girdler and the grape tumid gallmaker. The grape cane gallmaker attacks vines in May and June when female beetles burrow into the green shoots on a vine to lay eggs. Larvae may be found inside shoots until August. Damage is usually minimal. The grape cane girdler is also a beetle that also lays eggs inside the shoots of the grapevine. The grape tumid gallmaker is a small fly that lays eggs inside a grapevine. Larvae will then feed on the vine.

Control and Prevention

Scout your grapevines, according to the University of Rhode Island. Many pests will damage a plant without killing it. Check plants and vines regularly for pest damage. According to the University of California, insecticides may be sprayed on plants to prevent insect damage. Consult with a pest control specialist to determine which types of insecticides are best and will not damage the fruits or vines.

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