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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

May 21, 2024 - 12:56pm --

With a quickly moving spring, many of the fruit trees in our area have already dropped their flower petals and started developing fruit clusters. Depending on variety, some of the fruit are already beginning to gain some size. This is quite a contrast from the last 2-3 years, where we had cooler temperatures in place holding back and slowing down development progress in our fruit trees. Accordingly, it is an important time to get out and inspect your trees for disease and pest issues.

Let’s first talk about some of the insect pests that you may encounter in your fruit trees. Some of the pests you will be able to find and see for yourself, others may only leave feeding damage or other signs of their presence, but you won’t likely actually find them. One of the pests that you will be able to see is the wooly apple aphid. The wooly apple aphid is a pest of apple trees that over winters in the crown and roots of the tree and then as temperatures warm, they crawl up the trunk and out into the branches where they begin to create colonies. Pressure of the wooly apple aphid may be higher in years following mild winters, such as what we experienced this past winter. Careful inspection now can result in seeing the active movement of the aphids, and as they colonize, look for white cottony masses on the branches. Too, in any species of fruit tree, scouting the foliage and branches for aphids is recommended from this point and continuing throughout the season. While checking for the wooly apple aphids, check the branches for scale too. Scale are a common pest in fruit trees, have a hard shell that protects their soft body and have crawlers that are active this time of year.

Some insect pests can go unnoticed until damage has been done

Other insect pests like plum curculio, oriental fruit moth and codling moth can also be damaging in fruit trees, but typically are unnoticed until damage has been done. Plum curculio are snout beetles, also known as weevils, that damage a wide range of fruit by feeding on and laying eggs in developing fruit. They leave a “C” or crescent moon shaped scar in the fruit after laying their eggs. Plum curculio overwinters as an adult beetle in ground litter or the soil, and when spring arrives, they migrate to trees and are most active from petal fall through early summer. The adult beetles can walk and fly and are primarily active at night when temperatures begin to warm. Moth pests like the oriental fruit moth and the codling moth are also difficult to find, although they can be monitored with the assistance of pheromone traps. Their presence, if not detected via traps, is often observed as larva damage in the fruit.

Keep an eye out for fire blight, peach leaf curl, mildew

It is also important to keep an eye out for diseases like fire blight, peach leaf curl and powdery mildew. As you are inspecting your fruit trees, it would be a good idea to remove any “mummy fruit” or diseased fruit that are still present in the tree from last season. Improving the sanitation in and around your fruit trees can reduce the amount of disease inoculum present and reduce disease pressure, hopefully making disease management a less daunting task.

Other management guidance and recommendations can be found in the “Midwest Home Fruit Production Guide” as well as the “Controlling Diseases and Insects in Home Fruit Plantings” publication. Commercial growers can reference the “Midwest Fruit Pest Management Guide”. All of these publications can be found on or by contacting your local county extension office.

Frank Becker is the Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator with Ohio State University Extension – Wayne County, and a Certified Crop Adviser, and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
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This article was previously published in The Daily Record.