Gypsy moths/Peach Trees

thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near NashvilleMay 7, 2013

Hi! I just planted my first fruit trees last spring, and know less than everyone on this forum about how to care for them! Last year, even though they were very young, them and one adult tree that was already here were all struck with what I am 90% sure was gypsy moths (thanks to the help of kind people on this forum). Well, this year for whatever reason (mostly absentmindedness) I did not do anything to prevent another infestation of gypsy moths and all my fruit trees already have very small fruit on them (smaller than a marble but close to that). MY QUESTION (finally) IS THIS: Am I too late to prevent gypsy moths from ruining my fruit again this year? Last year, my peaches all appeared to be ripening while quite small, and upon opening them up the seed had been mostly eaten and you could even see a little magot-looking bug inside. Also, the very tips of every branch would die off, then start to grow again somewhere near the end, then that tip would die and so on. 1) Is this gypsy moths? 2.) Is it too late to do anything now since they may already be inside the fruit and/or tree, and 3) (MOST IMPORTANT) If it isn't too late, WHAT SHOULD I USE? Keep in mind I live in a rural area and have no well-stocked professional nursuries....I have walmart, lowes, tractor supply, etc. Anything I can do? THANK YOU SO MUCH....and I will absolutely keep checking back for your answers. Thank-you.

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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

The insect attacking the shoots is likely either peach twig borer or Oriential fruit moth. Out west it's more likely PTB. Back east it may well be OFM.

If there is an insect in the fruit it's most likely OFM, plum curculio, or less likely the PTB.

It would help to know where you are growing fruit.

Gypsy moth caterpillar do attack fruit trees but not the type damage you describe.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 11:11PM
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hairmetal4ever(Z7 MD)

Gypsy moths would be more inclined to defoliate the tree, not mess with the fruit directly.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 12:02AM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

WOW...2-3 Hours since OP and already a wealth of information! Thanks so much. I live in northern middle Tennessee. My peach Trees are Red Haven. Sounds like OFM is the culprit. They don't eat the leaves....I've never seen any bug on or in the tree, but the very tips of each limb die and a big ball of sap forms, then a new tip starts growing very near the old dead one, looks great for 3 weeks, then a big ball of sap forms and it dies too. Repeat Repeat all season. The fruit turns ripe too soon, and when you open it you can see the seed has been hollowed out and there is a little thing that looks like a maggot...small, white...well, like a maggot! SO it it is OFM (more confirmation would be appreciated) is there anything I can do now that fruit has formed or is the bug/egg/larvae already inside? Thanks so much folks.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 12:36AM
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Scott F Smith(6B/7A MD)

You probably have both OFM and curculio. The shoot tips are OFM. The hollowed out seed is curculio. If the peach seed is not eaten by the worm its an OFM in the fruit and if the seed is eaten its a curculio. The curc eats the seed to get the fruit to drop, thats part of its reproductive cycle.

To control these pests you need to be doing sprays throughout spring and summer.


    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 8:34AM
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I agree with Scott, you probably have both. You missed the first spray, which should have been at petal drop, so I don't know, if the rest of the spray regimen ( Mid June, Late June, Early July) will do much good. I'd still give it a try. You can use Sevin or any other good insecticide. Be sure to pick up and destroy any fallen fruit, on a daily basis. Also spray for borers in August( 1st, 15th & 30th) with a permethyrine type spray.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 4:22PM
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I've never used Sevin but heard that it could cause fruit drop.

Many of us including me use insecticide called Triazicide, Once and Done made by Spectrazide. It has worked well for me. Read the label. Even though you missed the first spray, it's still worth trying.

Check your fruit if there are marks on them (some may have oozing jell on them, too). You can pick some that have clear marks and cut them up to see if worms inside. Hopefully, both bugs have not damage every fruit you have.

You don't want to spray when rain is in the immediate forecast.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:42PM
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I meant to say, Triazicide "One and Done". This if you go non-organic route.

If you go organic, you could spray with Surround, Kaolin clay. Scott Smith is our forum expert on growing fruit organically in the East Coast.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2013 at 6:57PM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Thanks so much for all your help, even though the incredibly insightful information you all provided is extremely depressing!!!! I say that because 1) It sounds like the odds are against me since I missed the early spraying and 2) almost every small peach on my tree has a tiny hole with gel oozing out of it, so from what you all just told me it sounds like I've lost another year's fruit!!!! I can live with that if I can at least get my trees to put on a good years growth, but with the tips of every limb dying every few weeks, I doubt much good growth will happen. DARN!!!! It never looked this hard when I saw those pretty trees at the store and imagined picking fresh fruit in a few years!!!! THanks all. I'm going to buy some once and done today and see if I can salvage anything.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 11:23AM
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"tips of every limb dying" may look alarming. It's likely OFM doing the damage. All you need to do is cut off those blacken tips (I just hand-pinch them off). Then, spray your tree with Triazicide or another insecticide of your choice. You seem to have high bug pressure, you may need to spray 10-14 days. You'll kill PC and OFM. You tree will recover well. Some of us spray Triazicide for borers, too. That's another nasty enemy of peach trees.

As for the fruitlets, cut a few of them up to see if OFM or PC lavae are inside. Pick those damaged fruit off your tree, throw them in the trash. Don't let them drop to the ground to start their life cycle in the soil.

I know it's frustrating. I hope you may be able to save some of your peaches.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Redhaven is an early peach so I'd move the spray regimen up a month. In other words, May instead of June. As was stated, cut off all of the blacken tips as they appear, and your tree should grow normally. I'd buy the Triazicide, since it will kill borers too. Continue the spray program every 7-14 days as long as the problem exists. Now, you'll know what to do next year.
No matter how much we think we know about growing fruit trees,
there's always something new to learn. It's kind of like OJT.
I know you're frustrated, but that's how we all learn.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 8:41PM
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The OP neglected to tell us which zone he is. The OFM comes in five generations the first three generation the larva enters the twigs and in cold weather the eggs takes about three weeks to hatch. The most dangerous generations are the fourth and the fifth which comes in summer heat and the eggs deposited on the fruit hatch in 3 to five days. From my experience using insecticide to control OFM is useless because you need to kill the adults before they lay the eggs on the fruit. How it could be done you don't see them and we don't know their timing. Only commercial growers has sophisticated methods to follow their life cycles. That is why I concern myself for fighting the eggs and preventing them from hatching. I use horticulture oil every week in early season cold weather and every 4 days in late season hot weather hoping I hit the eggs before hatching and destroy them. By this way I saved half of my crop and this year comes the summer heat I will shorten my spray schedule to 3 days. Dormant spray does not help with OFM. By the way if you are in mid-Atlantic states the likelihood you a victim of OFM.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 12:39AM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Folks, I've learned more information in this little thread than in the hours I've spent doing general (google, etc) research on the topic of peach tree "enemies". I truly am touched that so many strangers would take your time to just to help someone who really should have done a lot more investigating before deciding to try and grow peaches. All this incredibly helpful discourse and I only have 6 small trees and one older, mature one. I hope and suspect there are others like me out there who just romanticised the idea of growing their own fruit without really understanding all that it entailed. If so, I'm sure this thread will benefit others besides me so thank all of you for your help. I know that last year as my premature fruit mysteriously appeared to almost ripen and then fall to the ground, I let it lay there under the tree so undoubtedly I was a great ally to the lifecycle of these darn critters which is surely one of the reasons I have so many today. One fo the many things you have taught me here is to at least remove those fallen fruit! ANd to spray early. And often. Whew! BTW.....not sure what zone I am in but I did say above that I'm in northern middle Tennessee. I am. at least, encouraged to know that while I may loose my fruit crop this year, it sounds like you all think I can, at least, still get a good years growth out of my tree in spite of all the limb tips dying every few weeks if I cut those tips off. Since most of my trees are very small (5-6 ft) I wouldn't have got much fruit anyway, but I really did want to at least make sure my trees got some good growth on them this year so that if I ever do become proficient enough to manage the bugs and produce some fruit, my trees will at least be large enough to yield a good amount of fruit. In summary (finally) thank every one of you who took your time to try and help this city boy who just moved to the country and is trying learn how to grow peaches. (the sad news for all of you is that I also planted cherries, plumbs, pears, figs, apples, grapes, blueberries, rasberries, and blackberries! What was I thinking?!?! Will they all be this hard??? I'm sure you'll be seeing more quetions from me....I can only help you all will continue to show me the patience and kindness you have here! Thanks.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 2:14AM
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You're starting the same way we all did. We all bit off a little more than we could chew, but didn't know it at the time. The TOP poster of this forum is Don Yellman, who goes by the user name "Jellyman." He has more or less retired and has passed the torch to the rest of us. I was fortunate to print out every one of his posts, so I kind of have a Jellyman reference book that I can refer to, when I have a problem. I know that it will be quite a task, but I would try to do a Jellyman search of this forum, and read everything by him. But you have the rest of us to rely on, and we're all more than glad to help.

Of the fruits that you listed, I grow everything except cherries, grapes, raspberries & blackberries. If you'll stick with varieties that are suited to your area, you're half way home. I'd also find an extension agent in your area for help. Not all agents are the same. Pick his brain and make sure that he knows what he's talking about. A lot of them just read from a prepared script. Good luck and welcome aboard.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:32AM
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I concur with Rayrose. In addition to much admired Jellymann, there are a lot of experienced contributors on this forum who are kind with their knowledge and time (and cuttings/scions) such as Harvestman, Scott Smith, Olpea, Fruitnut, to name a few.

Of all the fruit trees you planted, I have apples, Asian and Euro pears, Japanese plum, cherry (sour and sweet) and fig (new this year). To me, apple and pears are easier. cherry and plum have more "issues". Peach can be a pain as you now know. I've heard fig is easy. I hope they are right.

Rayroe is right, planting disease-resistance varieties as well as fruit trees that suitable for your zone, you win half a battle already. I think you may be in zone 6b or 7a. Check the plant hardiness zone here.

I get discouraged at times esp. after the whole season of fighting with bugs and diseases, squirrels take all the prizes. But for the most part, it's rewarding.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA Plant zone hardiness

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 7:27PM
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You will be happy to know that OFM is not an enemy to fig trees as well as blackberry and blueberry it devastates only stone fruits.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:09PM
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thecityman, Zone 7a/6b near Nashville

Again, thanks for the info, the names of some resident expert, but especially the encouragement! That I need most of all! Thanks also for the zone map. I can now tell everyone that I am in zone 7a, maybe that will help. I will try to find the appropriate forums for my up comming questions, but my next ones are going to be how the heck to trim and train grape vines! Also, from what I've read cherries, especially sweet ones, are perhaps the hardest thing to grow in my area? Finally, even though people tell me blueberries are one of the easier things, mine have done extremely poorly. But like I said, I'll go to the appropriate places for these if I need to, though i',m certainly open for brief comments on any of these 3 issues. But thanks for everything!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 9:43PM
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You'll get better responses if you post each question with its specific subject line such as Why my blueberry leaves turn yellow!

This way, you will attract more responses from those who have experience growing the paritcular fruit trees. If you keep reading this forum for a while, you can tell who are experienced in what kind of fruit trees.

Yes, sweet cherries are more difficult to grow in East Coast. Sour cherries are easier to grow. Blueberries are easy if you get the soil ph right and plant the right variety for your zone. I have no experience with grapes. One of these days, I may try to grow them.

Good news is you will find good advice from contributors here for all the fruit trees you have. You just need to post wtih the subject lines that attract people's attention.

Good luck

    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:07PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

" From my experience using insecticide to control OFM is useless because you need to kill the adults before they lay the eggs on the fruit. How it could be done you don't see them and we don't know their timing."


That's not quite correct. Contact insecticides work quite well against OFM. A pyrethroid like Triazicide will have 7-10 days residual control. If there is enough residue on the leaves/fruit, an adult moth will absorb a lethal dose simply by landing on the tree.

I find it interesting that even a non-contact insecticide like Intrepid has sub-lethal contact effects on adult moths. Female moths can absorb enough through their cuticle, that while it won't kill them, it will reduce or eliminate their ability to lay eggs.

Spraying oil every 3 days is a tremendous amount of oil and I have to wonder the long term effect on the tree.

For OFM, there are much better pesticide options available than oil - both organic and conventional.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 2:15AM
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Here is a blueberry link from Clemson. It should answer all your questions.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 8:42AM
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