Cherry trees are often found in many homes and gardens. These trees produce lovely, colourful blooms and make excellent specimen trees. However, cherry trees are susceptible to infestations of boring insects that damage the health and appearance of the tree. Boring insects weaken cherry trees, making them susceptible to other damaging pests or diseases.
The peachtree borer is a damaging pest of cherry trees and other fruit trees such as peach and plum. Also known as the peach-crown borer, this pest damages cherry trees while in the larval stage. Large populations of the peachtree borer cause the tree to weaken and eventually die. Another damaging wood-boring insect is the lesser peachtree borer, which often infests the peach, plum and cherry tree. Adult borers are small flying moths that don't damage trees. Like the peachtree borer, the larval stage of the lesser peachtree borer is responsible for extensive tree damage.
Cherry trees infested with the peachtree borer develop wet cankers on the surface of the bark that may ooze sap. Tree sap is often mixed with dark-coloured frass, the excrement of the pest. Cherry trees sustain the majority of damage underneath the soil line. Lesser peachtree borers often cause infested cherry trees to develop off-colour foliage, crown dieback and wilted shoots. Cankers are often visible on the bark of the tree, and limbs break off easily.
Keeping your cherry tree healthy is key to preventing infestation of boring insects. Most boring insects do not infest healthy trees. Trees under drought stress or damaged through pruning are at an increased risk of developing insect infestations. Preventive trunk sprays are available at your local garden supply centre and may help prevent boring-insect infestation. These products are most effective if applied in July and early August. Using pheromone traps near the cherry trees alerts you to the adult flying forms of boring insects. When adult forms are abundant, preventive sprays must be applied before these insects lay eggs.
Insecticides may eliminate boring insects, but timing is critical to their success. Insecticides must be on the surface of tree bark after eggs hatch, but before the pest enters the cherry tree. Once inside the tree bark, these pests are very difficult to eliminate. Newly hatched larvae are most vulnerable to the effects of insecticides. Both the peachtree borer and the lesser peachtree borer may be controlled with products containing permethrin or carbaryl.
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