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Peachtree borer

Synanthedon exitiosa (Say)
Lepidoptera: Sesiidae

Adult is a clear-winged, metallic-blue moth that has one broad orange (female) or two or more yellow (male) bands across the abdomen (A); both sexes have more amber sheen on wings than lesser peachtree borer adults. 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 all stone fruits, mainly peach. Larva burrows into the bark, usually entering at a crack or wound near the soil surface, and feeds on the cambium and tunnels between the inner bark and the sapwood. Larvae normally attack the tree trunk between 7.5 cm (3 in) below ground to 25 cm (10 in) above ground; larger roots are also occasionally attacked. Areas attacked often have masses of gum, mixed with frass, exuding from the bark (C). Young trees may be completely girdled and eventually die; older trees are debilitated and more susceptible to other insects or diseases.

Similar Species

Very similar to the lesser peachtree borer (S. pictipes), 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 the lesser peachtree borer infests higher up on the trunks and in the lower branches. 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, summer or postharvest trunk sprays of contact insecticides can be applied.

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