Insects and parasites of the peach and apricot tree

Insects and parasites of the peach and apricot tree

Peaches and apricots are very popular fruits both in income crops and in gardens and small family orchards. The cultivation of these plants can also be managed organically, without letting the insects spoil the crop.

When it comes to organic fruit growing, one of the biggest objections is related to the difficulty in defense from parasites, so much so that some say: "it is impossible to do organic: only rotten fruit is harvested". In reality, organic fruit growing does not envisage leaving everything in the hands of nature without ever treating, but also provides forms of defense.

It certainly serves a basic approach based on prevention, which is realized through the care of biodiversity in the agricultural environment, whether small or large. Rows of hedges and bushes are an excellent refuge for useful insects and insectivorous birds, and the grassing of the orchard is also valuable for this purpose.

But sometimes all this is not enough to ward off parasitic attacks and we must therefore resort to treatments with effective but fairly selective and biodegradable products. The important thing is to be prompt in recognizing the presence of parasites and to intervene appropriately and constantly.

The premise is valid for all species, but now let's see in particular which are the main parasites that can affect the apricot and the peach tree, two species that produce summer fruits that are too good and healthy for you to give up picking them.

Cydia harasses

It is a moth (butterfly) that lays its eggs on the leaves of the peach and apricot plant. The cidia larvae that emerge penetrate into buds, flowers and fruits, ruining them and making several generations in a year. They overwinter in cocoons between the bark of the plant, so to eliminate many overwintering individuals it is useful to prepare a trap made of corrugated cardboard around the trunk in late summer, to be removed in winter. During the spring-summer season, food traps (Tap Trap type) are effective if installed in sufficient numbers on plants. Otherwise we can treat with selective products such as Bacillus thuringiensis kurstaki, to be sprayed diluted in water in the evening, since UV rays limit its persistence. For the treatment to work, the water must have a subacid pH, between 6 and 7, for this purpose we can possibly add vinegar to the mixture.

Anarsia

Like Cydia, anarsia is also a small moth which in a larval state irreparably damages peach and apricot fruits, as well as buds and flowers. It is managed just like Cydia with the same methods allowed in organic fruit growing, bearing in mind that for both pests, the early ripening varieties are less at risk: they manage in part to escape the crucial period of insect attacks.

Mealybugs

We have already talked about these tiny insects in the article on how to defend the garden from cochineal. The branches infested with scale insects can be cleaned by hand using metal brushes that remove these parasites, or with cotton soaked in alcohol. Among the most useful insecticidal products against cochineals we remember mineral oils, if you want a more ecological method you can use garlic macerate or fern macerate.

Aphids

Aphids, also called lice, are very common parasites of which there are many species that affect vegetables, ornamental plants and fruit trees, we talked about them by listing them among the garden pests, you can read how to defend yourself from aphids. The peach tree is easily attacked by green aphids which sucking the sap on leaves and shoots, leave them crumpled and full of sticky honeydew. The symptoms are quite evident and by spreading the leaves you can see the dense colonies of these tiny beings. Fortunately, in nature they are captured by various types of predators, including ladybugs, chrysopes and hoverflies, all very useful insects, which we should learn to recognize both at the adult stage and at the larval stage, to avoid confusing them for parasites. To prevent aphids away, it is useful to spray the plants with nettle extracts for 12-24 hours, while to eradicate them the simplest remedy is the use of Marseille soap dissolved in water, to be sprayed on the plants in the evening.

Fruit fly

The fruit fly (Ceratitis capitata) as an adult is yellow-orange in color while the larvae are white and feed on the fruits, digging tunnels in the peach and apricot pulp. They can make up to 6-7 generations a year depending on the climate, in the south they make even more, so they are very rapid in proliferating. The fruit fly can be fought with Tap Trap food traps or with treatments based on Spinosad, an ecological insecticide whose active ingredient is obtained from a set of metabolites produced by a microorganism.

Hairstyle yellow and red

They are two species of butterflies that dig tunnels in the branches when they are in the larva stage, and can be recognized by the holes from which the wood rosures emerge. We can find them on peach or apricot trees, the most harmless and natural remedy is to favor the presence of woodpeckers by installing artificial nests, but you can also use Bacillus thuringiensis.

Wasps and hornets

Against the damage of wasps and hornets, which eat the fruits and are potentially dangerous for allergic people, the food traps of the Tap Trap type are useful, with baits obtained by filling the bottles up to half with apple vinegar, red wine and a spoon or two of sugar.

Recently arrived parasites

In recent years, other "exotic" parasites have also been introduced into our environments, including Popillia japonica, a polyphagous insect, in the sense that it feeds on many plant species by devouring their foliage, this parasite also affects the apricot. Some organic farmers fight it with pyrethrum, doing more treatments throughout the season.

We also saw a worrying increase in bedbug damage. Green bugs have always been there, but it is with the arrival of the Asian bug that substantial damage has occurred in the orchards, I invite you to read the post on bedbugs to understand how to deal with this insect that is particularly capable of adapting to insecticide treatments.

Furthermore, we point out the Drosophila suzukii, called "small fruit fly", which must be treated with pyrethrum or Spinosad, or with the same do-it-yourself food traps useful against wasps and hornets, for Drosophila better results are obtained using specific traps with red colored caps.

Biological defense and prevention

A rule that is always valid to prevent parasitic attacks is the pruning of the peach or apricot tree, which thins the foliage and cancels the possibility of creating dense and dark microclimates suitable for the development of some insects.

There are also two important strategies for biological defense: the launch of antagonistic insects in the orchard and the use of sex pheromone traps. However, both are effective on fairly large orchards (at least one hectare), and therefore are not valid for the private dimension or for small businesses. They are certainly biological control remedies very suitable for professional fruit growing.


Video: Treating Fruit Tree Borers