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Lesser peachtree borer

Synanthedon pictipes (Grote & Robinson)
Lepidoptera: Sesiidae

Adult is a clear-winged, metallic-blue moth that has two or more yellow bands across the abdomen, giving it a wasp-like appearance (A). Larva is white or cream-colored and hairless, with legs and a yellowish brown to dark brown head (B).

Distribution

Widespread in most fruit-growing states and provinces in eastern North America.

Damage

Attacks damaged areas of scaffold limbs of all stone fruits, mainly peach and cherry. Larva feeds on the inner layer of bark, killing the cambium and girdling the conductive tissue, which results in significant production loss in older orchards. Larvae normally gain entrance at areas that are already injured from Cytospora canker, winter injury, split limbs from heavy loads, or pruning or mechanical wounds. Their sites of infestation tend to be on the upper trunk or lower limbs and frequently cause a flow of frass-containing gum (C).

Similar Species

All forms are very similar to the peachtree borer (S. exitiosa), except that the adult female peachtree borer has a single broad orange band across the abdomen and the male has 3–4 pale yellow bands, while both the male and female lesser peachtree borer have 2 pale yellow bands. Can be distinguished by the fact that S. exitiosa infestations are restricted to trunks close to or just beneath soil surface. Species often occur together.

Management

Species presence and flight activity can be monitored with pheromone traps. Mating disruption is an effective option for both species in multi-acre plantings; also, insecticide drenches or sprays to wounds on scaffold limbs can be applied at bud swell or in the summer.

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