Major Insect Pests of Peach in Georgia

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Peachtree Borer (Synanthedon exitiosa)

Larvae are dirty-white caterpillars with brown heads, up to one inch (25 mm) long. They feed in the cambium and inner bark of trees near or just below the soil level, causing deadened areas in the bark. Damage is often first detected as masses of gum containing grass and sawdust exuding from a tree around the base of the trunk. Young trees often are completely girdled and die. Extensively damaged older trees lose vigor and productivity and tree life is generally shortened.




Oriental Fruit Moth (Grapholitha molesta)

Larvae are pinkish to creamy-white caterpillars with brown heads, about 1/2 inch (13 mm) in length. Early in the season, larvae tunnel in tender twigs causing twig die-back (flagging). Heavy infestations may give the tree a bushy appearance. Later generations may feed on terminal growth and developing peaches. Larvae attacking the fruit often enter near or through the stem and bore directly into the interior of the fruit. Larger peaches may show no external damage. Fruit damage may cause an increase in the amount of brown rot.

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Photo by Art Cushman, USDA Systematics Entomology Laboratory, Bugwood.org
Life cycle diagram.
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Life cycle diagram.

Plum Curculio (Conotrachelus nenuphar)

Adults are small, brown snout beetles, about 3/8 inch (9 mm) long, mottled with lighter gray or brown markings. Larvae are yellowish-white, legless, brown-headed grubs, up to 3/8 inch (9 mm) long. Adults damage fruit by making small circular feeding punctures or small crescent-shaped cuts following egg laying. Early-season adult damage causes scarred, malformed fruit (catfacing) and can provide entry for brown rot. Larvae tunnel and feed in developing fruit, often causing young fruit to drop. Second generation curculios may also be a problem on mid- and late-maturing peach varieties.




Sucking Bugs and Catfacing Insects

There are a number of sucking bugs affecting peaches including:

  • Tarnished Plant Bug (Lygus lineolaris)
  • Green Stink Bug (Acrosternum hilare)
  • Southern Green Stink Bug (Nezara viridula)
  • Leaffooted Bug (Leptoglossus phyllopus)
  • Euschistus spp. and others

Feeding by one or more species causes scarred, distorted fruit with sunken areas (catfacing). Such damage can occur throughout the season but most occurs during the period from just prior to bloom until the peaches are about 1/2 inch (13 mm) in diameter. Larger peaches may show signs of attack by exuding droplets or strings of gum at the feeding site, but distortion of large fruit usually is less severe.

Tarnished Plant Bug Southern Green Stink Bug Leaffooted Bug
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Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org

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Photo by Russ Ottens, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

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Photo by David Riley, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org

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Mites

Both European Red Mite (Panonychus ulmi) and Two-Spotted Spider Mite (Tetranychus urticae) can be problematic in peach.

These are tiny, about 1/60 inch (0.4 mm) long, colorless, brownish-red, or greenish 8-legged pests which feed on the undersides of leaves causing a whitish to yellow mottling of the leaves which may become bronzed. High populations of the two-spotted spider mite may be indicated by light webbing on leaves, twigs or fruit. Heavy mite infestations cause premature defoliation and reduce fruit size.

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Photo by John A. Weidhass, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Bugwood.org
Two-spotted spider mite (right) and European red mite (left)
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Two-spotted spider mite (right) and European red mite (left)

Lesser Peachtree Borer (Synanthedon pictipes)

The borers are creamy-white caterpillars with brown heads, up to 1 inch (25 mm) long and feed in inner bark of the upper trunk and large branches. Injury is similar to that caused by the peachtree borer: masses of gum exuding from deadened areas containing larvae. Damage usually is worst in forks and around wounds in the bark.

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Photo by Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, , Bugwood.org
Larva
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Larva
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Photo by Carroll E. Younce, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
Damage - gummosis
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Damage - gummosis

White Peach Scale (Pseudaulacapsis pentagona)

Armored female scales are inconspicuous, circular, brownish-white, convex, and about 1/12-1/10 inch (2.0-2.5 mm) in diameter. Armored males, usually found in clusters on the lower trunk and large branches, are elongated, snowy white and about 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) long. Heavy infestations weaken or kill twigs or branches and unattended trees usually die within 2 or 3 years

Leafhoppers

Among the leafhoppers that can be problematic in peach are:

  • Homalodisca coagulata
  • Oncometopia orbona
  • Graphocephala versuta
  • Homalodisca insolita
  • Cuerna costalis

These slender, rather large, often brightly colored leafhoppers (sharpshooters) feed into the xylem tissue of peach twigs. Often present in high numbers, their primary importance is as vectors of phony peach disease.

Cuerna costalis Oncometopia orbona Homalodisca coagulata
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Photo by Susan Ellis, , Bugwood.org
Sharpshooter
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Sharpshooter
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Photo by Jessica Louque, Smithers Viscient, Bugwood.org
Leafhopper
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Leafhopper
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Photo by Reyes Garcia III, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
Glassy-winged sharpshooter
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Glassy-winged sharpshooter

Originally compiled from

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