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Searcy, Ark. –
Three species of phylloxera (Phylloxera devastratrix) are pecan pests, but only the pecan phylloxera causes economic damage in certain
years. The pecan leaf phylloxera and the southern pecan leaf phylloxera feed primarily
on the foliage, whereas the pecan phylloxera attacks the foliage, shoots and fruit
and is therefore the most damaging (see image). The pecan phylloxera is a small,
aphid-like insect that is rarely seen, but the galls it produces are prominent and
easily noticed. Severe infestations will cause malformed, weakened shoots that finally
die; such infestations can destroy entire limbs.
The pecan phylloxera overwinters as eggs located inside the dead body of a female
adult, which is in protected places on the branches of pecan trees. Soon after bud
break, the eggs hatch and the young insects migrate to opening buds or leaf tissue
to feed on expanding new growth. The individuals that hatch from the overwintering
eggs are known as stem mothers. Feeding by the stem mothers stimulates the development
of galls, which enclose the stem mother in a few days. Inside the gall, the stem
mother matures, lays her eggs and dies. Eggs laid by the stem mother hatch within
the gall, and these nymphs feed within the gall until they mature.
In early July, the galls split open and the mature nymphs emerge as winged, asexual
adults. These adults migrate to other trees or other parts of the same tree and lay
eggs that are of two sizes. The smaller eggs hatch into male sexuals, and the larger
eggs hatch into female sexuals. Male and female sexuals do not feed; their sole purpose
is to mate and produce the overwintering egg. After mating, female sexuals seek out
sheltered places on a tree, where they die with a fertilized egg inside them, protected
for the winter.
The adults and nymphs are small, one-eighth inch long, soft-bodied and cream-colored.
They resemble aphids without cornicles (the protruding tubes located on the dorsal
end of aphids). You'll need a hand lens to observe and identify them.
Because the galls are seen easily, pecan phylloxera infestations often appear worse
than they are. Once the galls appear, it is too late to control pecan phylloxera
for the season. However, in most cases it is not necessary to be of much concern,
since they usually do not cause enough damage to pecan trees to warrant an insecticide
application. If you would like to apply an insecticide try Bayer Advanced Fruit,
Citrus and Vegetable Insect Control for systemic control that requires no spray application.
Only the trees that were infested the previous year will need treatment, not the entire
orchard. Certain native trees and grafted varieties within an orchard become more
heavily infested than other trees.
By Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Sherri Sanders County Extension Agent - AgricultureU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service2400 Old Searcy Landing Road Searcy AR 72143 (501) 268-5394 email@example.com
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