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Peachtree Borer in the Landscape

Stephen Bambara, Extension Entomologist

CAUTION: This information was developed for North Carolina and may not apply to other areas.

Peachtree Borer, Synanthedon exitiosa LEPIDOPTERA: Sessiidae


[General Information] [Biology] [Control] [Other Resources

General Information

female mothThe peachtree borer is native to North America.  It is an importance pest around most peach-growing areas, and in the landscape will attack, cherry, plum, laurel, and other Prunus species of ornamental trees and shrubs.  Borer infestations can be detected by the presence of gum and frass around the base of a tree.  The exudate around new feeding damage is soft, sticky, and light brown in color, while older damage is marked by hard sap and dark brown frass. Symptoms are often first noticed in the spring.

Biology

Adults are day-flying moths which resemble wasps in appearance and behavior. The female is bluish black with a bright orange band around the fourth or fifth abdominal segment. Her body may be up to 3/4" in length. The male moth is smaller with transparent areas in both front and hind wings. The hind edges of the second through sixth abdominal segments may be marked with yellow scales giving it several thin yellow bands.

larvaLarvae are creamy in color with a brown head and three tiny pairs of legs on the thorax.  Fully grown larvae may reach 1.5 inches in length.

gum at base of tree trunkFemale moths lay eggs in crevices or under rough bark on the tree trunk around the lower portion of the trunk or near the crown.  Larvae hatch in 8-9 days and attack the main trunk and larger roots near the soil surface.  They feed on cambium tissue and may eventualy weaken or kill the tree.  Borers overwinter as larvae in the tunnels and resume feeding the following spring.  Most individuals complete development during the summer.  Part of the population may require two years to complete the life cycle.  Pupation occurs  within a silken cocoon covered with chewed wood and frass. 

About 99% of the cocoons are formed on the base of the trunk or in the soil within 3 or 4 inches of the tree.  In North Carolina, adults may emerge from early May to late November, but the peak emergence usually occurs about September 1, in the mid-coastal plain region.  Females mate about one hour after emerging from the cocoon and start laying eggs soon after mating is completed.  They may lay over 1200 eggs with near 100% fertility.

Management

In the landscape, literature sometimes suggests attempting to stab larvae in tunnels with a wire. This is laborious and difficult to accomplish. There are no effective chemicals for larvae already tunneling within the trunk or roots. Suggestions of paradichlorobenzene (PDB) or moth crystals in the soil are also not recommended. Management is aimed at chemical protective barriers to either discourage egg laying, or kill the tiny larvae upon hatching.

Suitable chemicals usually contain the ingredient permethrin. They need to be applied to the bark at the base and lower part of the trunk several times during the season, but especially before and after the peak moth emergence about the first of September. graph of adult activity during year Commercial operations may use sex pheromone traps to monitor the population.  The first few days of adult emergence are usually comprised of males. Chlorantraniliprole (Acelepryn) is a systemic labeled for clearwing borers.

Home owners may use multi-purpose landscape sprays labeled for borers containing active ingredients such as permethrin, esfenvalerate or cyfluthrin.

Parasitic nematodes have been tried by some people wishing to avoid chemicals with varied results.  Application can be tricky.

Other Useful Information:

University of Florida note


Other Resources

For assistance with a specific problem, contact your local North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service personnel.

Published by North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service

Distributed in furtherance of the Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. Employment and program opportunities are offered to all people regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability. North Carolina State University at Raleigh, North Carolina A&T State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and local governments cooperating.
The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance contact an agent of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in your county.
© 2007 NC Cooperative Extension Service

Prepared by: Steve Bambara, Extension Entomologist. Based on the original document AG-146 by Clyde Smith and revision by John Meyer.  Trunk image from University of Florida. Moth image by J.R. Baker.

ENT/ort-141 May 2007
Web page last reviewed January, 2011 by Art Vandolay.