Nectarine tree: mites, ants, leaf curl, stunted growth.

cjgwJuly 9, 2014

I planted a dwarf nectarine tree a couple months ago and it's showing some problems. There are lots of ants crawling up the trunk and all over the leaves. There are what appear to be black/grey mites on many of the new leaves which are curled and drying out. The ants and mites seem to be working together. I've been spraying off the ants and mites with water but they keep coming back.

The tree also seems like it should have grown more by now. At this point, it is still just under 2 feet high with just some additional leaves which are the curled ones. The tree was planted with a mix of native clay soil, some compost and a potting soil blend. Any ideas on how I can save it? Thanks!

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Poor baby the little thing is trying hard. First off leaf curl like that is usually caused by aphids that's one of the reasons you have ants. The tree is stunted because of this but it can be fixed. You will never get rid of the curled leaves until it goes dormant this fall and looses its leaves,(just looks bad)which is not an issue. I have some on my plum.
You need to spray for aphids every 7 days for about 3-4 weeks (reproduce) and with something stronger than water. Once you get a handle on the aphids the tree will start to grow again and the ants will find some where else to eat.
I would just like to add GET RID of the Bermuda near that tree at least 3-4ft-"NG" if not on drip dig a trench (moat) around base of tree and fill with water s/b damp to a depth of about 2ft for its size.
Hope this helps
Arizona by way of So. CA
PS aphids can be black or green or brown (doubt mites)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 7:34PM
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A squirt bottle of water mixed with some dish washing detergent does a fine job of killing the aphids but the ants will continue moving the survivors to new leaves. Search boric acid traps to keep the ants under control. Without the ants, natural predators can go after the aphids and keep them under control.
The genetic dwarf trees grow fairly slowly so don't expect a whole lot of progress, even without the aphids. Is that a nectar babe by the way? I planed a nectar babe nec. and a honey babe dwarf peach in containers in March and am trying to figure out the yellowing leaf problem.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2014 at 8:55PM
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Also,Tanglefoot can be put around the trunk,several inches from the ground.I use about 3-4 inches of masking tape,with the sticky side facing out,wrapped around,and the Tanglefoot smeared on that.This will stop the ants and other crawling insects from getting up.
Something like Safer Soap should help with the Aphids. Brady

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 2:47AM
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Thanks for all the help, guys! Yes, it is a Nectar Babe. Campv, what's the Bermuda you're referring to? OK, so soap spray for aphids and Tanglefoot and maybe some boric acid traps for the ants. It seems there's a BIG ant problem in the yard. Could fungus also be causing the leaf curl or is it most likely the aphids?

Are their any home-made diy solutions for the ants in place of the Tanglefoot? Just wondering.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Aphids do not cause Peach Leaf Curl,if that is what your tree has.Yes,PLC is caused by a fungus.I see mostly green in the leaves.Are there any reddish distorted ones with bubble-like lesions?Usually this late,the infected leaves have come and gone and new ones have grown when it's PLC.I guess it could be the Aphids injuring the plant.
Homemade Tanglefoot?Not that I know of. Brady

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 10:34PM
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That is not PLC, looks like a very dry part of Bay Area (like San Jose) and there is no PLC around this year because we've had no rain/humidity.

Definitely aphid/ant issue. Tanglefoot will take care of the ants. You could just do that eventually natural predators will take those aphids (they can't now because the ants protect the aphids)

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 1:36AM
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Bermuda Grass the green stuff growing @ the base of the tree. It is very bad for the tree. Plus it can produce bugs. Clean that stuff away from the tree trunk about 3-4 ft and don't forget about the well around the base.

Fungus can cause leaf curl but it will look different from what you have. Usually the leaves will have blisters on them, often red spots, sometimes holes and will be more crinkley, yellow and it will be all over the tree not just at the top. Aphids like new growth.
Sorry Brad what this tree has is not peach leaf curl , its aphids.

San Fran- watch next year about the same time for the same thing and get right on it when you start to see leaf distortion so it won't get so bad.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 4:57PM
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Bradybb, there's some redness and yellowing of some leaves but no bubble-like lesions that I can see. Some of the curled leaves with red/brown spots look very chewed up as seen in the photo below.

It seems the ants are definitely moving/protecting the aphids. I saw an ant actually carrying one. Yes, it's been very dry here in the East Bay. So I hope that means no fungus. How does it look from the pic?

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 5:03PM
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Here's another curled leaf with spots.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 5:07PM
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It looks like an Aphid problem.They don't go after my Nectarines,only the Plums.Brady

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 8:35PM
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Thanks for all the advice, guys. The Tanglefoot is working great! Man, I wish I'd known about that earlier. I really hope this little tree gets better. The sticky barrier is totally stopping the ants from climbing up the tree. They're dumping all the aphids they're farming on the small section of trunk under the barrier. It's actually quite sad and pathetic, lol. Can the aphids still damage the tree this way? I'm just going out there and wiping them off the trunk every now and then. These stupid ants have gotta give up at some point, right?

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:23PM
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From what I understand,Aphids like to suck on new leaf growth.If the ants can't get up into the tree,then they are a limited number.
The tree can be sprayed with some short blasts of water,which will knock both out of the tree.It shouldn't bother the Tanglefoot,as that stuff has staying power,but it's best to keep it away from that.
If there are Ladybird beetles(Ladybugs)there,they like to eat the Aphids.Brady

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 12:12AM
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It's a real pain having to uncurl each leaf to spray off these aphids. I think they're pretty much under control now with the Tanglefoot in place.

But... I've just realized I have a larger ant/aphid problem in the rest of the garden. The ants are totally out of control, farming aphids on other plants that I can't use the Tanglefoot on. Any advice from anyone one dealing with a massive ant population in a garden? If I can get the ants under control, the aphids will be much easier to deal with.

This post was edited by cjgw on Tue, Jul 15, 14 at 14:36

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 2:35PM
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Check out boric acid traps. basically, a certain ratio of boric acid powder to a sweetner like corn syrup.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2014 at 9:00PM
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Do they have to be boric acid traps to be safe for the garden? I already have some that use arsenic and others with some other chemical that's not boric acid.

Btw, the ants found a way under the Tanglefoot strip. I'd put a layer of cotton underneath because the trunk is uneven and it worked for a while but I guess the little buggers found a way through. It's a real pain working with this tree because it's so small. The section of trunk I'm applying it to is only an inch or two off the ground.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 8:23PM
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I'm not sure. The boric acid traps were recommended by Tom Spellman of Dave Wilson nursery, during one of his lectures.

For the tanglefoot, fill in any rough areas of the tree trunk with latex caulk. Then wrap with tape and apply the tanglefoot. If you can get the tanglefoot up higher, that would be better. Dirt kicked up by a breeze or your feet is less likely to stick.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:33PM
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The information from the makers of Tanglefoot indicates their product won't damage the bark.I've read users accounts of some discoloration.
Maybe try putting some at each end of the strip,a thin line that straddles both the tree and material,so the edges are sealed.Even one end covered should do it. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Putting tanglefoot on trees directly

    Bookmark   July 16, 2014 at 9:38PM
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