Twig Cutter Insect Control: Preventing Apple Twig Cutter Damage

By Darcy Larum, Landscape Designer

Many pests can visit your fruit trees. Rhynchites apple weevils, for example, can go barely noticed until they have caused considerable damage. If your apple trees are constantly plagued by hole filled, distorted fruits that suddenly just drop off the tree, continue reading this article to learn about controlling twig cutter weevils.

Apple Twig Cutter Insect Damage

What are twig cutter weevils? Rhynchites weevils generally host hawthorn, apple, pear, plum or cherry trees. Adults are 2-4 millimeters long, reddish brown and slightly hairy. The larvae is 4 millimeters long, white with brown heads. The rarely seen eggs are about 0.5 millimeters, oval and white to translucent.

Adult weevils drill small holes in the flesh of fruit. The females then lay eggs in these holes, crawling out of the fruit and partially cutting the stem that holds the fruit on the tree. About a week after being laid, the eggs hatch and the larvae feed on the inside of the fruit.

The holes in the fruit will scab over, leaving brown spots, and the fruit will grow distorted as the larvae eat its pulp. Eventually, the fruit will drop off the tree and the larvae will crawl out and into the soil to pupate. They’ll emerge from the soil as adult weevils and the destructive cycle will continue.

Twig Cutter Insect Control

Apple twig cutter pests cause the most damage in organic orchards where no chemical controls are used. Just one weevil can lay eggs in and damage several fruits on a tree. Some beneficial insects, like parasitic wasps, ladybugs or shield bugs, can help control rhynchites apple weevils.

The most effective control, though, is spraying susceptible host fruit trees with thiacloprid when fruit begins to form. Broad spectrum insecticide sprays can be sprayed on fruit trees and the soil around them to control adult weevils. Pyrethrum based insecticides are not recommended because they can also kill beneficial insects.

For prevention and control, pick up and dispose of any fallen fruit immediately. Also, trim off any fruit that looks like it may be infected by apple twig cutter pests. Not allowing these fruits to fall to the soil where the larvae will pupate can help prevent future generations of rhynchites apple weevils.

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