Whats Killing Our fruit Trees?

Peach Tree Bore

Peach Tree Bore

What’s killing our peach and cherry trees? That’s the question I asked myself when we were at our farm late last March and I noticed our peach and cherry trees were under a lot of stress. With me just learning to be a farmer I had no idea what it could be.  So when we went home I started researching online and found the most likely culprit was the Peach Tree Bore. When we went back to the farm again in May I looked for the signs of the Peach Tree Bore and sure enough… that’s what was causing the damage.

In this post I will show you what the peach bore looks like and the signs to look for and what you can do to get rid of and prevent them from harming your trees.

What is the Peach tree bore?

The peach tree bore is a moth that looks like a wasp that lays eggs in the  ground at the base of your fruit trees.  Once the eggs hatch out as a larve that looks like a skinny grub, it burrows into your tree trunk just below ground. They like stone fruit trees which are all fruit trees that have a pit in the center of the fruit, like nectarine, plum, cherry, and of course peach. It usually won’t kill a mature tree but if your trees are very young like ours it can kill them.

peach tree bore larvae

peach tree bore larvae


What to look for

The first thing you may notice is your trees may look like they are under stress or dying. The two cherry trees looked like they had died but sprouted again down towards the bottom of the tree trunck. The peach trees started growing water sprouts to get more leaves to help support it. When a young tree does this it is a sure sign that it is under stress from something.

Farm flooding 5

You can see here what is called water sprouts that are nothing more than many small branches that sprout out from the limbs of our peach trees.

If it looks like your trees are under stress dig into the ground at the base of your tree and look for a clear jelly like substance that will be covering an entrance hole of the larvae. If you see this then you know it is from the peach tree bore.

How we treated our trees

The first thing I did was locate several entrance holes of the larvae and I used an old fishing jig I had in my tackle box and I straightned out with a pair of pliers and I jabbed into the holes to kill the larvae.

Use a small wire or a straightened fishing hook like I did hear to kill the larvae.

Use a small wire or a straightened fishing hook like I did hear to kill the larvae.

Now if we lived there this is all I would have to do.  I could keep watch over the trees and check on them to make sure no other larvae are boring into out trees so I keep our fruit pesticide free… but we don’t so I have to resort to using chemicals until the day we move there.

What we used to kill the Peach tree bore.

What we used to kill the Peach tree bore.

I used Borer-Minor Killer by mixing 1 ounce to a gallon of water and I poured it all over the tree and around the base on the ground to help kill any larvae that I might not have killed with my fishing hook. Believe me when I tell you, I don’t like using any insecticide at all but since we are not there to constantly watch over our trees I felt I had to resort to this to help protect our investment in these trees.

Me watering some of our fruit trees on our farm with the Borer-Minor insecticide.

Me watering some of our fruit trees on our farm with the Borer-Minor insecticide.

The best defense against the peach tree bore is to have healthy trees, but our trees were under stress from last summers drought they had in Iowa and that caused our trees not to produce much sap and this allowed the Bore to bore into our trees and the tree didn’t have enough sap flowing to drown the larvae. If we could have been there to water our trees last summer we probably wouldn’t have this problem.

I don’t know if our peach and cheery trees are going to make it but it was a lessoned learned. At least we know now what we are up against and will do a better job of protecting our trees from here on out.



About Gordon Milligan

I am a retired conductor for a commuter railroad in Chicago IL, I now live in and have bought a 40 acre farm in South Central Iowa that I have built from the ground up. My wife and I are trying to raise and grow most of my own food using sustainible and organic methods. I have a blog that journals my journey to becoming a farmer.
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9 Responses to Whats Killing Our fruit Trees?

  1. misguidedute says:

    It looks like a caterpillar would BT help with this? I also saw something called Tangle Foot recommended for usage against this particular pest. Hate to see those young trees under so much stress.

    • Thanks Jon for stopping by and commenting. I hadn’t heard of using Tangle Foot for the Peach Tree Bore but I will check it out. There is a trap you can buy and there are Nematodes that you can buy that like to burrow into the larvae but that would cost about 25.00 us dollars a tree and you had to do that every year. It just wasn’t sustainable for our farm.

  2. Langela says:

    I wonder if wormwood would do anything? It’s a plant that you plant around your fruit trees to kill/prevent worms. I don’t know if it would do anything or not. Might be worth some research.

  3. So sorry you’re having problems with borers. My poor husband has had just about everything with his fruit trees, but maybe not borers. I’ll show him this post so he can check for them. He has yet to get an edible piece of fruit from any of his trees after 5 1/2 years between insects, fungi, frosts, etc! There are actually peaches on the peach tree this year, although he had to remove a lot for some kind of fungus. We’ll see if we get any. We would have gotten apples last year, but before they could ripen someone came and stole every single one. It couldn’t have been deer because even if they could have reached across his fences, they couldn’t have gotten all the way up. Too bad there’s no kind of pesticide for THAT kind of pest!

    • Thanks Susan, I hope Herb has better luck from here on out with your fruit trees. I am wondering if the person that stole your apples are the same person that slit your tire awhile back?

  4. Thanks for sharing, Gordon. My peach tree I planted last year is not doing well. I’m going to check for this.

  5. Bill says:

    It is so hard to keep fruit trees alive it seems. Glad you identified the problem and were able to deal with it. The apple trees that I my son and I planted years ago and they we have carefully protected from deer are finally ready to start producing a lot of fruit, only to now be suffering from fire blight which I fear will be lethal.

  6. Aarrgh! So many lessons in store. Seems like every year I learn a new one – one of these days I’ll stop being so stubborn about learning the hard way.

    Sorry about your trees, that’s disappointing.

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