Peach Tree Borer Symptoms: All You Need to Know – A Quick & Informative Guide

The peach tree borer is a destructive insect pest that primarily targets peach and nectarine trees, but can also affect apricot, cherry, and plum trees. This pest, scientifically known as Synanthedon exitiosa, can cause severe damage to the tree’s roots and crown area, impacting the overall health and fruit production of your stone fruit trees.

To effectively manage an infestation, it is essential to recognize the symptoms of peach tree borer activity in your trees. Some common symptoms include oozing sap and sawdust-like frass at the base of the tree trunk, as well as wilting and eventual dieback of branches. Early detection is crucial for proper treatment and control, as these pests can be hard to eradicate once they have burrowed deeper into the tree.

Peach Tree Borer Overview

Life Cycle

The Peach Tree Borer (Synanthedon exitiosa) is a major pest of stone fruits. Its life cycle begins with the moth laying eggs during the months of July and August. Larvae then hatch and eventually pupate in cocoons under the bark or near soil level. Adults emerge in 17 to 25 days between May and September1.

Identification of Male and Female Moths

The Peach Tree Borer’s adult moths are sexually dimorphic, making their identification easier:

  • Male Moths:

    • Resemble small wasps
    • Four narrow yellow bands on the abdomen
    • Clear wings2
  • Female Moths:

    • Dark blue body
    • Two orange bands on the abdomen
    • Opaque front wings2

Stone Fruits Affected

The Peach Tree Borer poses a threat to various stone fruits, including:

  • Peach1
  • Plum1
  • Cherry1
  • Nectarine1
  • Apricot2

Comparison Table: Peach Tree Borer Affected Stone Fruits

Fruit Affected by Peach Tree Borer
Peach Yes
Plum Yes
Cherry Yes
Nectarine Yes
Apricot Yes
Non-stone fruits No

Symptoms of Infestation

Trunk and Bark Damage

Peachtree borer larvae feed on the tree’s trunk, bark, and larger roots. They cause:

  • Tunneling underneath the bark
  • Visible damage near the base (crown) of the tree

See the Penn State Extension for details on trunk and bark damage.

Gumming and Frass

When a peach tree is infested, you may notice:

  • Gumming, which appears as a jelly-like substance seeping from the wounded bark
  • Frass, resembling reddish sawdust, in bark crevices or around the base of the tree

More on gumming and frass can be found at the University of Maryland Extension.

Foliage and Branches

Although the peach tree borer typically targets the trunk, bark, and roots, an infestation may also impact the tree’s foliage and branches. Symptoms include:

  • Leaves turning yellow and wilting
  • Dieback of branches due to disrupted nutrient flow

Consult the Colorado State University Extension for more about foliage and branch symptoms.

Prevention and Control Methods

Monitoring with Pheromone Traps

Pheromone traps are useful for monitoring peach tree borer populations. They attract male moths, reducing mating opportunities for female moths and helping to manage infestations. Examples of effective pheromone traps include:

  • Delta traps
  • Wing traps

Pros:

  • Non-toxic
  • Targeted towards specific pests

Cons:

  • Doesn’t eliminate female moths
  • May not be as effective in large-scale infestations

Mating Disruption

Mating disruption is another effective method for controlling peach tree borers. It involves releasing synthetic pheromones, making it difficult for male moths to locate female moths, thus reducing their mating success. Key features:

  • Applied in spring
  • Needs continuous monitoring
  • May require multiple applications

Use of Insecticides

Spraying insecticides can provide effective control of peach tree borers. Be sure to apply them according to the label instructions and consider their potential impact on beneficial insects. Some common insecticides used include:

  • Permethrin
  • Carbaryl (Sevin)
Insecticide Strengths Weaknesses
Permethrin Broad-spectrum; Fast-acting Harmful to beneficial insects, fish, bees
Carbaryl Effective against multiple pests Toxic to bees, aquatic life, and wildlife

Proper Pruning and Maintenance

Regular pruning and maintenance of peach trees can help prevent and control infestations. Make sure to:

  • Prune damaged or infested branches
  • Eliminate potential hiding spots for caterpillars and larvae
  • Avoid over-pruning, which can lead to stress and susceptibility to pests

In summary, using a combination of pheromone traps, mating disruption, insecticides, and proper pruning and maintenance can help prevent and control peach tree borer infestations.

Conclusion

In summary, the peach tree borer is a destructive insect that can cause severe damage to various fruit trees, such as peach, nectarine, cherry, plum, and apricot. Identifying the symptoms early on can help mitigate their impact on your trees.

Some key symptoms include:

  • Gumming at the base of the tree
  • Yellowing or wilting leaves
  • Tunneling beneath the bark
  • Presence of larvae or adult borers

To help illustrate the differences between peach tree borer and other common pests, consider the following comparison table:

Pest Primary Hosts Damage Caused Appearance
Peach Tree Borer Peach, Nectarine, Cherry, Plum, Apricot Base of tree damage, gumming, wilting leaves Larvae: creamy white; Adults: dark blue with orange bands
Codling Moth Apples, Pears Damaged fruit, larvae tunneling Larvae: white to pinkish; Adults: gray with wavy markings

By being vigilant and proactive in monitoring your fruit trees for these symptoms, you can better protect them from the harmful effects of peach tree borer infestations.

Footnotes

  1. Oklahoma State University 2 3 4 5

  2. NC State Extension Publications 2 3

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Female Peach Tree Borer

 

Subject: Is this a wasp or a fly?
Location: Orem, Utah
August 13, 2016 10:47 pm
I think you identified this one but I’m not sure.
Signature: Georgia Peach

Female Peach Tree Borer
Female Peach Tree Borer

Dear Georgia Peach,
This is neither a wasp nor a fly, but it is a very successful wasp-mimic moth, and it is your namesake.  This is a female Peach Tree Borer,
Synanthedon exitiosa, a species with pronounced sexual dimorphism, which should be very evident upon viewing this excellent image of a mating pair of Peach Tree Borers from our archive.  The male and female look like they are completely different species.

Letter 2 – Female Peach Tree Borer

 

Subject:  I don’t believe google
Geographic location of the bug:  Ottawa Ontario Canada
Date: 07/17/2021
Time: 10:48 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Dear bugman,
a friend and fellow nature enthusiast suggested i try your platform in my continuous search for both identification and information on the critters i encounter.
It is mid summer in eastern ontario and i met this flying fashionista in my admittedly overgrown front garden hanging out on some not yet flowering sunflower variety.
My reserve image google searches suggested it is a clear wing moth but i’m not convinced…
Thanks in advance.
How you want your letter signed:  Ivy

Female Peach Tree Borer

Dear Ivy,
This is a Clear Wing Moth in the family Sesiidae, a group also called Wasp Moths because many, including your female Peach Tree Borer, are excellent Wasp Mimics.  The sexually dimorphic male Peach Tree Borer looks like a different species as is evident in this image from our archives of a mating pair of Peach Tree Borers.

Letter 3 – Lesser Peachtree Borer

 

Subject: What kind of bug is this?
Location: Ontario, canada
July 29, 2014 6:14 pm
Found this in my backyard, but have never seen it before.
Signature: Chelsea

Clearwing
Lesser Peachtree Borer

Hi Chelsea,
Though it resembles a wasp, this is actually a Clearwing Moth in the family Sesiidae, and many members of the family are effective mimics of wasps, a physical attribute that acts as protective mimicry.  The defenseless Clearwing will be avoided by many predators who have previously been stung by wasps.  Many Clearwings look similar, and we will attempt to identify your species later today as we now have some house keeping to which to attend.  You can see many examples of Clearwing Moths on BugGuide.
  Though we at first claimed we would attempt a more thorough identification later, we decided to give it a quick try, and we believe this is a Lesser Peachtree Borer, Synanthedon pictipes, based on images posted to BugGuide where it states:  “Larvae tunnel under the bark and in the twigs and branches of cultivated and wild peaches, plums and cherries (Prunus), Amelanchier, apples (Malus spp.) and pears (Pyrus) (all Rosaceae).”

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

Leave a Comment