Monday, July 28, 2008

What is Attacking my Pecans?

I have two gigantic pecans that I thought were very healthy. This year I have noticed a few branch tips have tent canterpillars? (I'm not sure that's what they are, but that's what I've always referred to them as) on them and the tree is dropping browned short branches for the past couple of weeks. The tree otherwise looks healthy and it is loaded with nuts ripening. What should I do?


Anne's Response:

Tent caterpillars are quite common in pecan trees. Many years ago farmers lit an oil soaked rag on a stick and burned the nests to kill the caterpillars. That is dangerous but you can use a long pole to strike the nests to break them open so the birds can get in to eat the caterpillars.

The loss of small branches from the tree is caused by and insect called a twig girdler (usually Oncideres cingulata). The insect girdles the twig, laying eggs for the next generation. A strong wind will break the stem at the point of the girdling and the stem falls to the ground with the eggs inside. To control the problem remove all the branches that fall to the ground and destroy them. If you don't the insect hatches in the spring, climbs the pecan tree and repeats the prcess for another generation.

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