Apricot Tree Problems: Tips For Controlling Insects On Apricots

There’s nothing like eating a fresh, ripe apricot straight from the tree. Gardeners invest years in bringing this pivotal moment to fruition, nurturing their apricot trees and fighting off the diseases and pests that can hamper their apricot-growing efforts. There are many types of pests on apricot trees, but most can be controlled without using potentially dangerous insecticides. Let’s take a look at some common apricot tree insects and how to treat them.

Pests on Apricot Trees

Below are some of the most common insects that cause apricot tree problems.

Sap-Feeding Insects

An important keystone to successful apricot tree bug control is recognizing the sap-feeding insects, an overwhelmingly common group of pests. These insects hide on the undersides of leaves or disguise themselves as waxy, cottony, or wooly bumps on stems, shoots, and twigs while feeding directly on plant juices.

Aphids, mealybugs, and a variety of scale insects are some of the most common apricot tree insects, but you may see signs of their feeding like yellowing and dropping leaves, sticky honeydew on leaves, or ants on your trees long before you notice sap-feeding pests. Weekly sprays of horticultural oil and neem oil work well for all of these slow-moving or immobile pests or you can use insecticidal soap against aphids and mealybugs.


Mites are tiny, sap-feeding arachnids that are difficult to see with the naked eye. Unlike sap-feeding insects, they don’t produce honeydew, but may weave thin strands of silk where they are actively feeding. Mites appear as tiny dots on the undersides of leaves that have become stippled or spotted, or where leaves are dropping prematurely. Eriophyid mites cause unusual swellings where they’ve been feeding on leaves, twigs, or shoots.

You can often prevent apricot tree problems caused by mites by keeping dust levels down, spraying leaves frequently with a water hose during dry weather, and refraining from the use of broad-spectrum insecticides that kill mite predators without controlling mite populations. Where mite colonies are problematic, a few weekly applications of horticultural oil or insecticidal soap will knock them back.

Foliage-Feeding Caterpillars

No discussion about controlling insects on apricots can be complete without at least a mention of the many caterpillars that eat leaves and damage fruits by chewing holes through the peel. Leaf-rolling caterpillars fold apricot leaves over themselves to form distinct, silk-bound nests where they feed from the inside. As leafrollers grow, they expand their nests, sometimes incorporating flowers or fruits. Other foliage-feeding caterpillars remain exposed, but hidden in the canopy while they feed.

Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly known as Bt, is considered the best control for widespread caterpillar outbreaks. This bacteria-derived stomach poison is short-lived on leaves, so must be reapplied every two or three days until all caterpillar eggs have hatched and larvae have had an opportunity to feed. Small caterpillar populations should be picked off of trees.


The larvae of a few beetles and moths become severe pests on apricot trees when they bore into trunks, twigs, and branches to feed on the sapwood that grows just below the bark layer. Large populations of tunneling larvae may eventually girdle trees, interrupting the flow of nutrients to branches and leaves where growth and photosynthesis take place. Without the ability to process the raw materials drawn up from the roots, trees become stunted, stressed, or die depending on the location of the girdling.

Borers are among the most difficult to control of apricot tree insects because they spend much of their lives inside the tree itself. Pruning out infested limbs in the winter and destroying them immediately can break the life cycle of borers that are not infesting the trunk. Otherwise, good support for your tree in the form of proper watering and fertilizing is often the only thing you can do to prevent further penetration by larvae- adult borers only lay eggs on severely stressed, injured, or sunburned trees.

How to Grow Apricot Trees from Pits or Saplings

By Erin Marissa Russell

If you’re ready to grow an apricot tree, either from an apricot pit or from an established sapling, and you need to know the steps you should take to plant and care for the tree, this is the guide for you. There are few things in life tastier than a fresh apricot (or the treats you can bake with fresh apricots), unless it’s a homegrown apricot fresh from your own tree, bitten into while it’s still warm from the sun.

It’s easy to see why apricot trees top the wish lists of so many gardeners. Keep on reading to learn exactly the steps you should follow to plant your pit, seed, or sapling and watch it grow into a lush, productive adult apricot tree.

About Apricot Trees

Apricots are a Mediterranean stone fruit with fuzzy, velvet-like skin in a rosy peach shade with juicy, tender flesh inside. The trees produce fruit 120 days after blossoms appear. An apricot tree in bloom is a striking sight, with rosy pink buds against wood in a shade of brown so deep it’s almost black. The buds open into delicate white blossoms with golden centers.

Growing Conditions for Apricot Trees

Apricots thrive in cool weather, so in the United States, the trees perform their best up north but are suitable in the west as well. (Specifically, apricot trees are hardy in USDA growing zones five through eight.) They do best in locations with warm, sunny springs and summers where they can be provided plenty of hydration. Your apricot tree needs between 700 and 1,000 hours with temperatures dipping below 45 degrees Fahrenheit to put out fruit each year. (These are called “chill hours.”)

Because they bloom at the end of February through the beginning of March, they can fall prey to damage from late frosts. Choosing the hardiest variety available to you offers some protection against this climate hazard.

Your apricot trees will need full sun and a minimum of four to nine feet of well-draining soil to develop the strong roots required for a bountiful harvest. Choosing the place where you’ll plant your apricot tree may seem like a quick decision you’ll make before the real work begins, but in fact, the location has tons to do with how successful your tree will be in the long run.

Be sure to select a spot that has plenty of room for your tree to stretch out its roots and branches—and you’ll need to take into account the size and spread of an adult tree, not just the growth you can foresee for the next few seasons. Planting your new tree too close to others can cause competition for resources and nutrients, and we don’t mean the healthy kind of competition.

Concrete walkways, pipes under the surface of the ground, or power lines spanning the sky too near your planting spot can be just as troublesome as other trees encroaching, so don’t forget to take those into account. Also, just because you aren’t personally aware of any below-ground obstacles doesn’t mean they aren’t there. The last thing you want to do is disrupt vital utilities in your home or for one of your neighbors when you start to dig, so take a moment in the planning phase to call 811 and ensure the spot where you’ll be planting your apricot tree is safe and free of underground obstructions.

Not only will it save you time and trouble when you take this precaution, the quick call may even save you money—there can be fines associated with disrupting these underground utilities if you fail to call 811. For more details and your region’s contact instructions, you can visit the Common Ground Alliance damage prevention website and select the state where you live on the map.

To give your apricots the best possible shot at success, you’ll want to do everything you can to draw in pollinators like birds and bees or other flying insects. First, do your utmost to use organic insecticides and other treatments instead of relying on chemicals, as the harsher stuff can discourage pollinators from flying by your garden or be detrimental to their population, resulting in fewer fruits on your apricot tree.

You can also bribe pollinators to hang out near your trees by making sure that your garden features blooming plants year-round—native plants when possible. Refer to ecoregional planting guides from the nonprofit Pollinator Partnership to learn exactly which plants you should include in your garden to entice the pollinators that live in your area.

How to Plant Apricot Trees from Pits

When you plant your tree from a stone, the pit in the center of a ripe apricot, expect a three- to four-year wait before your seedling becomes a tree that can bear its own fruit. Kick things off by soaking the stone you’ll use in water for a full 24 hours. Once soaking is done, nestle the stone into moist peat, damp sand, or wet paper towels. Enclose the seed and damp material in a Ziploc bag, and refrigerate it for at least a month. Move on to the planting steps listed below for saplings once the month has elapsed.

How to Plant Apricot Trees from Saplings

Most saplings a gardener purchases will need two years of care before they’ve matured enough to start producing apricots. In the location you’ve selected, dig a deep hole and add lots of decomposed organic material mixed with high quality garden soil.

If your apricot sapling came equipped with its own peat pot, leave the pot around the tree when you plant it. You can cut slits into the container to give the sapling’s roots a head start at branching out, but take care not to slice into the roots when you add these slits. If your tree came enclosed in a bag, remove the bag before planting.

Care of Apricot Trees

Your apricot trees will need fertilizer in late winter, in the spring, and while they’re fruiting during the summer months to do their best. With the first irrigation in spring, water in one or two pounds of urea, then give young trees a quarter of the first treatment amount each month during the summer. Alternatively, you can opt for the convenience of fruit tree fertilizer stakes.

Then, before rains begin in the fall, prune the tree to remove branches that have died or are suffering from disease. Also prune to create some space in areas where the tree has grown too thick and compact so that sunlight can reach the leaves and fruit and air can circulate around the branches. Keep in mind that apricot fruits grow on the second year of growth. That means you’ll need to be careful when pruning (especially in your first year with your tree) to leave plenty of the previous year’s branches intact so that your tree has what it needs to bear fruit. Make sure to handle the year’s pruning before the new growing season begins the next spring.

During its first year of growth, your apricot tree will benefit from the support of staking to prevent wind damage.

Although a tree that’s drooping with thickly clustered fruit looks healthy and productive to the untrained eye, the truth is that fruit crammed too closely together is bound to rot quicker than it has to. That means that if you want to get the longest life out of your apricots (and prevent them from rotting practically as soon as they ripen), you’ll need to thin out some of the fruit on the tree so the remaining ones can benefit from air circulating around them, not to mention make the most of the tree’s resources.

At the beginning of the spring season, when the fruit on the branches is between three quarters of an inch to an inch around, twist off some of the apricots (don’t pull down or use too much force) so that the remaining pieces have two to four inches of space around each of them to ripen without being stifled by their neighbors. If your apricot tree is too tall for you to safely thin out the fruit, you can use a grabber or bamboo pole cushioned with thick tape to help you reach the pieces you’re removing. Simply tap the bottom of the fruits you’d like to remove with the pole and let them fall to the ground.

How to Propagate Apricot Trees

The most foolproof way to propagate new apricot trees from your existing specimens is to take a cutting. Propagation by cutting is best handled in the fall while leaves still cling to the tree or while it is dormant in winter. Take your cuttings as soon before you’ll plant as you possibly can, and keep the new cuttings moist so they stay healthy and strong until you can get them in the ground.

Use pruning clips to slice through a section of tree on the bias, creating a new cutting between six and nine inches long and as big around as a standard pencil. Select cuttings that include at least three or four leaf axils or buds. If the bottom half of the new cutting has leaves, strip to remove them, but allow leaves on the top half of the cutting to remain attached. You can refer to the color and texture of these leaves when you need to check the health of your newly propagated apricot cuttings.

If you won’t be planting immediately, wrap the bottom portion of the cuttings in moist paper towels, then enclose them in a resealable plastic bag. Store cuttings in partial shade or, if your cuttings are bare of foliage, you can opt for full sun instead. When it’s time to plant, moisten the open end of the cutting and dip it into rooting hormone powder. Then bury the branch several inches deep in a pot full of fresh, damp sand or peat. Consistently water the newly propagated apricot trees until they begin to put out new growth in the spring,

Garden Pests and Diseases of Apricot Trees

In the section that discussed growing conditions, we mentioned the possibility of apricot trees being damaged by early frosts. The climate isn’t the only hazard that can threaten your apricot trees, however. Your trees can also fall victim to diseases or pests. Here are a few of the most common maladies apricots struggle with and what you can do to prevent them harming your trees. As usual, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so be familiar with the challenges apricot trees are susceptible to so you can head them off before they rear their ugly heads.

  • Bacterial canker: This organism takes advantage of stone fruit trees that are weakened due to stress, coming down hardest on cherry, peach, and apricot trees. Trees with bacterial canker show their symptoms in the spring as infected blossoms open and the twigs they’re growing on begin to die off. Flowers and leaves may appear late or fail to appear at all in affected areas. Some afflicted trees may show sap that oozes or appears in water-soaked spots along with a sour smell, increased water spouts, or dark purple leaf spots that turn necrotic. The best way to prevent bacterial canker from taking hold is to avoid the most common sources of stress in these trees, which include damage from freezing or sunscald, soil that’s too light and sandy or drains poorly, the ring nematode Mesocriconema xenoplax, improper pruning, and damage from collision with gardening equipment.
  • Powdery mildew: The fungi behind powdery mildew are the cause of a common struggle for gardeners in warm, dry areas. Look for the disease’s hallmark gray or white areas that look like talcum powder—these are deposits of fungal spores. This quickly spreading fungus can survive over the winter on fallen branches or twigs before redistributing when they’re uncovered in spring. To counteract apricot trees’ weakness for powdery mildew, avoid applying nitrogen to your garden in late summer, clear away fallen plant debris and prune trees carefully, and apply a fungicide at the first sign of trouble. Our article on how to identify, prevent, and treat powdery mildew has more detailed information.
  • Root rot, also called root fungus: Trees can suffer from phythphthora root rot as a result of the roots staying too wet for too long. Visually, leaves look like they do when stressed by drought (wilting and losing color), and they may die when warmer weather arrives. The tree’s bark might display darkening around the soil line or, underneath the surface, a reddish-brown hue. Root fungus may be spread via water, compromised gardening tools, or infected soil. To treat, add drainage, raise plants when possible, cease overwatering, and remove potential sources of infection.
  • Aphids: Most gardeners have encountered aphids a time or two before. They’re tiny soft-bodied insects in a variety of colors that suck the sap from plants. The bugs themselves are visible on the undersides of the leaves of afflicted plants, and the leaves of plants infested by aphids demonstrate distorted shape or may fall off the plant. Our article on controlling aphids offers 20 different methods of fighting them off.
  • Peach twig borers: Peach twig borers infest apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plums. Larva hatch from eggs, spend time wrapped in a cocoon, then emerge as adult moths that are gray with black and white scales. The first symptom of a peach twig borer problem is often observed in spring, when new growth begins to wilt from the damage they do. Larva can be sniffed out due to the small piles of sawdust and wood chips stacked above where they feed, or they may instead feed on the apricots themselves. The adults tunnel through the tree’s new growth, eating leaves and buds along the way. Keep an eye on new shoots in April and the beginning of May, watching carefully for signs of this pest so you can stamp them out before they get out of control. Open shoots that show signs of wilting to look for the borers hiding inside. Peach twig borers can be fought by treating with insecticide just before flowers bloom and again when petals fall, catching them with pheromone traps, or by deploying the tiny Pentalitomastix pyralis wasp that parasitizes them.

If birds are pillaging the apricots on your tree before you get to taste them, pest netting can be an effective countermeasure. If the netting doesn’t do the trick, you can turn to these 12 humane ways to keep birds at bay in your garden.

Whether you choose to purchase young apricot trees and nurture them to maturity or you opt for the mega-affordable (though slightly more time-intensive) route of starting your apricot trees from the pit of an apricot, the rewards of a beautiful tree in your garden and your own private supply of this juicy, rosy stone fruit are well worth the time you’ll put into caring for your apricot tree. That said, there’s no reason to lose precious time with trial and error—and armed with the information from this guide, you won’t need to worry about wasting your time reinventing the wheel.

Apricot Essentials

  • Plant new trees in early spring, fall planting in mild areas can be successful if trees are dormant.
  • Buy dormant, bare-root, 1-year-old trees, if possible.
  • Although most varieties are self-fertile, fruit set is better when planted with one or two other varieties nearby. Trees will start bearing in the third or fourth season.
  • Expect 3 to 4 bushels of fruit from a standard-size tree, 1 to 2 from a dwarf variety.

    Choose a site in full sun. Northern growers should put trees on the north side of a building so trees warm up as late as possible in the spring. Apricot trees do well in a wide range of well-drained soils.

  • Space standard-size trees about 25 feet apart plant genetic dwarfs 8 to 12 feet apart.

  • Apply a small amount of nitrogen fertilizer each spring. Where apricots are easily grown, train to an open center. For colder areas use a modified central leader.
  • Prune bearing trees annually to encourage new fruiting spurs.
  • When fruits are 1 inch in diameter, thin to 3 to 4 fruits per cluster to increase the size of remaining apricots and prevent over bearing one year, little the next.
  • See our article Fruit Pests and Diseases for controls of common apricot pests such as codling moths, peach tree borers, plum curculios, and brown rot disease.

  • Harvesting peaks in July in mild areas and in August in colder ones. The picking season is short.
  • Pick when fruits are fully colored and skin gives slightly when pressed.

Apricot Tree Bug Control - Learn About Common Pests On Apricot Trees - garden

When should I begin spraying my fruit trees, and what should I use?


This question is hard to answer because it gives too little information. What kind of fruit trees? What insect and disease problems have been a problem in the past? Don't apply products unless there is a problem to solve you may create a real problem if you treat for a nonexistent problem. Is this an orchard or a few backyard trees?

I can safely assume from the address that this is a backyard "orchard" with a few trees. I will have to guess at the answers for the other questions. The fruit trees which have the greatest problems in New Mexico tend to be apples with codling moth or powdery mildew problems, cherry trees with peach tree borer or cherry fruit flies, or peaches and other stone fruits with peach tree borer problems. While there are other problems encountered in New Mexico, these are much more common than others. If you have different problems, be sure to contact your local Cooperative Extension Service office or Master Gardeners for assistance in diagnosing the problem. Many local nurseries may also be able to help.

Regarding apples, codling moth larvae are the worms in the apples. Use of a horticultural oil as a dormant spray now can help reduce the problem in the summer but will probably not eliminate the worms from the apples. A dormant spray will also help reduce other insect problems you will encounter in the summer. For homeowners, there are several products which must be used through the summer to prevent the worms in the apples. Some of these are organic insecticide materials, others are those called synthetic insecticides such as Diazinon(c) which has proven effective at codling moth control. Whichever product you choose, it may be necessary to reapply the product several times through the summer, some as often as every ten days to two weeks. Be sure to buy a product intended for use on the plants you have and intended for management of the problem you have identified. If powdery mildew is a problem, there are products labeled for use on apples which may be used if the problem is severe enough to require treatment.

Cherries don't get codling moths, but they are subject to fruit flies. Here in New Mexico the problem is the Western Cherry Fruit Fly. Not the kind of thing you want to find in a cherry after eating a handful without checking first. Actually, you can probably eat them without harm to yourself as long as you don't see them. Personally, however, once I have seen one, the cherries don't taste good any more. A dormant spray will not be helpful in solving this problem. Pesticides such as Malathion(c), Diazinon(c), or Sevin applied to the ground under the trees and to the leaves as the cherries approach full size can help. There are also some cultural techniques such as placing a sheet of clear plastic on the soil under the tree from the time the fruit begins to enlarge until after harvest. The reason for treating the soil with pesticides or plastic covering is that the fly pupae (cocoons) mature in the soil under the tree. They emerge from the soil as adult flies when the fruit is maturing. The female flies lay their eggs in the nearly ripe fruit where the maggots develop and destroy your appetite. Treating the soil under the tree will probably not be sufficient since you live in town with neighbors nearby whose trees are untreated. The adults can fly a considerable distance to get to your tree. Here in New Mexico the flies can receive quite an assist from the wind if it blows the correct direction. Again, choose your control products after carefully reading the label, then follow the label directions when using it.

The peach tree borer attacks all of our fruiting and ornamental stone fruit trees, those trees whose fruit have a pit such as cherries, almonds, apricots, and peaches. Their larvae borer into the tree at the ground level or just below the soil surface. If the tree is young or heavily infested, the borers can quickly kill the tree. Often they attack and weaken the tree, and subsequent attacks over the years result in the decline and death of the tree. The frustrating part is the tree will often die with a bumper crop of fruit shriveling on the tree. The chemical products for controlling peach tree borer are becoming less numerous. Dursban(c) is still labeled as a preventive spray to be applied at the base of the tree in late spring. It only prevents successful infestation by new peach tree borer larvae it does not kill those already under the bark. Parasitic nematodes have proven to be a reasonably effective biological control measure with the benefit of "search and destroy" capabilities. These tiny round worms, if applied around the base of the tree, are able to travel a short distance in search of the borer larvae which they enter and kill.

In all cases, it is essential that you properly identify the pest problem and choose a management method appropriate for that problem on the specific crop you are treating. Then read and follow the directions on any product whether an organic pesticide or synthetic.

We seek to improve the lives of New Mexicans, the nation, and the world through research, teaching, and extension.

How To Prevent Diseases & Pests On Peach And Apricot Trees

Peach and apricot are fruit trees predisposed to the attack of common diseases and pests, so the treatments that apply throughout the year are necessary. Learn, with this article, how to prevent diseases and pests on peach and apricot trees.

Diseases of peach and apricot trees

– flaking
– lead disease
– moniliasis of fruits
– Peach leaf black spots
– bacterial ulceration
– mycotic scarification of the leaves
– blight
– the crust of the bark

Peach and apricot trees pests

– apple worm
– the downy caterpillar
– the green peach pads
– the San Jose louse
– the testaceous louse
– peach moth

Spraying calendar on peach and apricot trees to fight diseases and pests

Spraying on peach and apricot trees in January – February

The first treatment for peach and apricot trees is imposed in January – February (20 January – 20 February) for the prevention and control of the San Jose louse, and the egg and aphid eggs. Sprays are made with substances such as Admiral 10 EC, Malathion 50 EC, Pallas 50 EC or Smart 44 EW. For this spraying, choose a day when weather conditions prevent the solution from freezing.

Spring spraying on peach and apricot trees

The second preventive treatment of peach and apricot trees is recommended for combating moniliasis, flaking, leaf black spots and defoliation. Spraying can be applied between March 20 and 30 when buds begin to swell. As solutions, you can choose Merpan 50 PU, Super Champ 250 SC or Topsin 75 PU.

The following treatment aims at combating diseases such as leaf leaching, lead disease, fungal scarring, and flaking. The treatment is administered between the pink button phase until near bloom and can contain substances such as barium polysurf, Orius or Folicur.

In the last decade of April, there is a treatment against leaf and flaking, as well as aphids and defoliators. The treatment is identical to the one before and it is retained when 10-15% of the flowers have shaken their petals.

In the first decade of May, spraying with fungicides and insecticides is carried out to combat leaf black spots, moths, peach worms and aphids.

Two weeks after this treatment, acaricide treatment is used if leaf black spots are observed.

Between May 15 and August 1, it is recommended to avoid spraying with organophosphorus solutions. If the appearance of the butterflies is observed after the flowers are shaken, a treatment against apple worms is needed. For this treatment, one of the following insecticides may be used: Calypso 480 SC, Diazol 50 EW or Sumicidin 20 EC.

Around June 10, when the fruit has the size of a peanut, a fungicide treatment is applied to fight foliar diseases. If needed, the same treatment can also be applied between June 20-25, when the fruit has the size of a nut.

Autumn spraying on peach and apricot trees

After 80% of the leaves have fallen (from October to November), a copper sulfate treatment is applied to combat lead disease, flaking and leaf black spots formation.

Watch the video: 4 - Pest Management in Fruit Trees

Previous Article

My Hyacinth Is Turning Brown – Caring For Browning Hyacinth Plants

Next Article

Agravertin: instructions for use, reviews of the drug