The Peachtree Borer

By Elaine Pugh, Fairfax Master Gardener

male borer

male peachtree borer

The peachtree borer infects and overwinters in trees from the Prunus genus, including cherry, apricot, nectarine, plum, prune and peach varieties. This borer can girdle and kill a small tree in a single season. The best time to check for the peachtree borer is in the fall, since it may be attacking one of these trees now.

What is this pest?
This borer is Synanthedon exitiosa, a moth with four standard stages of development that looks like a wasp and has a damaging bark-chewing caterpillar.

What does the damage look like on the tree?
Borer infestations can be detected by the presence of gum with a sawdust-like frass on loose or cracked bark on the trunk from 1 to 2 feet above ground to 2 to 3 inches below ground. Younger trees are particularly susceptible, but older trees may also exhibit stunted growth, yellow foliage, wilted leaves, branch dieback and loss of productivity.

peachtree borer damage

peachtree borer damage

What can we do about it in the fall?
According to the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Office, there are no effective chemicals for larvae already tunneling within the trunk or roots.

The Missouri Botanical Garden and the Utah Cooperative Extension Office recommend mechanically removing the borers in the late summer and fall by a technique called “worming” if only a few trees are infested. Individual borers may be killed by inserting a wire into their holes, but be careful not to severely damage the tree in doing this.