Cherry Trees & Insects That Cause Leaf Damage

Written by lisa lavergne
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Cherry Trees & Insects That Cause Leaf Damage
There are many insects that cause leaf damage to cherry trees. (cherry tree in blossom image by PHOTOFLY from

Cherry trees are a favoured plant among many gardeners, not only for the delicious fruit they produce but for the beautiful flowers that grace their branches in the spring as well. Many of the cherry tree species available for purchase are relatively easy to care for; however, there are some insects that are known to plague the trees, and these can cause severe damage if left unchecked.

Tent Caterpillar

The tent caterpillar is a nuisance to many species of cherry tree. During early stages of life, the tent caterpillar will dine on the leaves of one branch of the tree. According to Washington State University, just one tent caterpillar can cause a 20 per cent defoliation of one small cherry tree. An infestation of tent caterpillars can cause total defoliation to a cherry tree. While a single occurrence of this defoliation rarely kills the tree, it can stunt growth and leave the tree susceptible to drought or disease.


Aphids are one of the most commonly seen insects in the garden. There are more than 350 different species of aphid, with a handful of these species being found specifically on certain varieties of cherry tree. For example, the black cherry aphid can be found on species of tart cherry tree, but choke cherry aphids prefer to dine on pin cherry and choke cherry tree. Aphids consume the sap from the plants they feed on and an infestation of aphids can causes severe wilting and damage to your cherry trees.


Major threats to many species of cherry trees are borer insects. Borers feed on the inside of the trunks, branches and stems. The damage caused by borers contributes to significant leaf damage, as the roots and branches of the tree are unable to carry necessary nutrients to the trees foliage. There are many different species of borer, including roundheaded, flatheaded, peachtree and metallic wood-boring beetles. Borer insects can cause severe damage to cherry trees, as they are often very difficult to get rid of. Removing borers from a tree can often cause more damage than the insects themselves. Prevention of borers is the ideal method to protect your cherry trees from these invasive and damaging insects.


Scales are a common cherry tree pest that can cause damage to the plant over time. Scales consume plant sap, which can cause a steady decline of plant health. An infestation of scales early in the plant's life can stunt growth. The secretions left behind from scales can also attract ants and wasps, which can contribute to the growth of moulds that will further damage and possibly kill the tree.

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