University of Maryland Extension

Apple - Pear Insects

1.  Aphids - rosy apple, green apple, and woolly apple

There are three types of aphids that infest apples: rosy apple, woolly apple, and green apple aphids. Rosy apple aphids are very destructive because their feeding causes the fruit to be small and badly deformed. Green apple aphids feed primarily on young, succulent tip leaves and may or may not cause significant damage. The superior-oil spray applied at green tip will help reduce the aphid populations, but rosy apple aphids generally require additional treatments with an insecticide at the tight cluster and pink stages just before bloom.

rosy apple aphid on leaf
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org Rosy apple aphid, Dysaphis plantaginea

Apple aphids on leaf
Kansas Department of Agriculture, Bugwood.org Apple aphid, Aphis pomi

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

2.  Codling Moth, Cydia pomonella

A very common, destructive insect pest and is the most common “worm” found in apples. Females of the first generation lay eggs during the petal fall period, and the larvae burrow into young fruits causing them to drop early. Adults become active when mean temperatures exceed 60 degrees F. Cool spring weather will delay emergence and extend the mating and egg laying activity. With later generations, eggs are often laid directly in fruits, and the larvae tunnel through the flesh causing wounds that are often followed by fungal rots. A typical sign of codling moth activity is a small hole on the outside of fruits that may show traces of sawdust-like frass around the edges. When the fruit is cut, a small, pinkish-white larva can be found in a tunnel leading from the hole on the outside to the core. Control efforts must be aimed at early generations to keep later populations from becoming so large that major fruit loss occurs.

codling moth worm inside apple

Photo: Ward Upham, Kansas State University, Bugwood.org Codling moth larvae, Cydia pomonella


codling moth damage to apples
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Bugwood.org Codling moth damage to apples, Cydia pomonella

Nonchemical management:

• Hang plastic traps (empty 2-liter soda bottles) filled halfway with molasses, vinegar, and water, from tree limbs at petal fall.
• Cover individual fruit after pollination with small paper bags.
• Remove infested fruit from tree.
• Band tree trunks with folded corrugated cardboard to trap larvae leaving trees to pupate in bark or    in soil.
• Scrape loose bark off tree during dormant season to remove overwintering larvae.
• Lightly cultivate soil prior to bud swell to disrupt/kill overwintering larvae.
• Pheromone traps can be used to trap adult male moths. Hang two per tree at bloom and replace the pheromone every 8-9 weeks. These traps are most effective for monitoring codling moth adult males and can be effective if monitored and managed regularly. The risk exists of attracting more males to the area than can be trapped, leading to an increase in egg deposition by females.

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

3. Mites

two spotted spider mites
Photo: Frank Peairs, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org Two-spotted spider mite

Spider mites can be a problem on both apples and pears. The most common species is the European red mite whose eggs overwinter on the bark and bud scales. A second troublesome species is the two-spotted mite, which spends the early season on the ground and then moves into the trees during the summer. The eggs of the European red mite are tiny, shiny, red spheres laid around buds and on leaves and fruit. The adults are tiny, reddish, oval- to pear-shaped spiders that move readily when disturbed. Two-spotted mites are also pear-shaped but are yellowish, and two distinct dark spots can be seen on the back when viewed with a hand lens. With both species, the feeding of high populations causes the foliage to appear bronzed on apples and brown to black on pears.

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

4. Apple maggot, Rhagoletis pomonella 

Not a serious and widespread pest across Maryland although it can cause significant fruit injury in home gardens. The adults are small black flies with clear wings that have black markings. Female flies insert their eggs under the fruit skin. Egg laying causes dimpling of the fruit surface. Maggot feeding creates brown winding tunnels through the fruit. The maggots complete their lifecycle in the soil after infested fruits drop to the ground. Adult flies can be monitored and caught with trapsred spheres (resembling apples) coated with petroleum jelly or other sticky substance. The sticky spheres are tied to string and hung from tree limbs in mid-June.

dimpled damaged apple
Photo:Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org Damage from apple maggot, Rhagoletis pomonella

apple maggot adult
Photo: Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org Apple maggot adult, Rhagoletis pomonella

apple maggot sticky trap
Photo: Joseph Berger, Bugwood.org Apple maggot sticky trap

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

5. Pear psylla

This is a sucking insect that can be detrimental to pears. If uncontrolled, high populations of this pest can cause early defoliation, complete fruit loss, and tree decline. Adult psylla look like tiny cicadas. The immature nymphs of pear psylla secrete large amounts of sticky honeydew on fruit and foliage surfaces. The honeydew is colonized by various sooty mold fungi that turn the fruit and foliar surfaces black.

pear psylla damaged leaf
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org - Pear psylla damaged leaf

close-up of pear psylla
Photo: Charles Olsen, USDA APHIS PPQ Bugwood.org - close-up of pear psylla

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

6. Plum curculio, Conotrachelus nenuphar

Adult plum curculio feeding on apple  Fruit with plum curculio damage
U. of MN Extension Adult plum curculio inserting snout into fruit (left), NHFruitGrowers.org Crescent-shaped scars (right)

Apple with plum curculio damage  plum curculio_larvae
U. of KY Extension Plum curculio damage on apples (left), Oklahoma St U. Plum curculio larvae (right)

Plum curculio is a gray snout beetle that is about 1/4-inch long. It is a major problem on stone fruits because the eggs are laid in the fruit. Adults become active when mean temperatures exceed 60°F. Cool spring weather will delay emergence and extend mating and egg laying activity. When the larvae hatch, they eat through the fruit flesh to the seed and cause the fruit to drop. The most serious damage on apples occurs in the first month after petal fall when egg laying on very young fruits causes severe deformities and early fruit drop in June. Larvae that successfully hatch and grow will tunnel through the fruit flesh to the seed. Attempts by later generations to lay eggs in the hard apple fruit are seldom successful, but the oviposition scar develops into a characteristic slightly raised, shield-shaped russet spot approximately 1/4- to 3/4-inch in diameter. These later injuries are unsightly but do not seriously reduce the quality of the fruit.

Non-chemical management:
• Hang plastic traps (empty 2 liter soda bottles) filled halfway with molasses, vinegar, and water,          from tree limbs at petal fall.
• Cover individual fruits after pollination with small paper bags.
• Remove infested fruit from tree.
• Lightly cultivate soil prior to budswell to disrupt/kill overwintering adults.
• Keep trees pruned and open (curculios prefer deep shade).
• Lay a white sheet under trees, tap limbs with padded stick, and capture adults when they drop to  the ground.

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

7. Scale insects

are tiny, aphid-like, sucking insects that spend part of their life cycle under a waxy shell, or scale, of their own making. In large numbers, their feeding causes shoots and small branches to dieback. In addition, they excrete honeydew in large amounts, making leaves and fruit sticky and heavily blackened as sooty molds develop. Where scale insects are well established, heavily infested limbs need to be cut out and destroyed and a thorough superior-oil plus insecticide spray applied early in the spring at the green tip stage. Later generations are usually controlled by sprays applied for codling moth control.

Tree Fruits - Pest Control and Spray Schedules

8. Brown marmorated stink bug

 Apple with brown marmorated stink bug damage  Apple with brown marmorated stink bug damage under skin
Internal BMSB damage (left) - External BMSB damage (right)

brown marmorated stink bug adult
Adult BMSB

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