We’ve been having a drought here, and up where my house is being built my fledgling fruit orchard is not doing super great, just not the sort of summer where they’re going to put on a big fat growth ring.
But a few of my apples, specifically my Honeycrisp, are doing particularly bad. They’re invested with something. Two have damage on every leaf, and have lost many leaves, if it continues unabated I could lose the trees.
The leaves are skeletonized in a very very fine fashion, more fine than like what japanese beetles will do. There are also bits of webbing, curled leaves, and black debris that is either droppings or eggs.
I believe what I have is an infestation of Choreutis pariana, or the apple leaf skeletonizer, or apple-and-thorn skeletonizer. It is a little moth, an invasive species from Eurasia introduced in 1917. It is a tiny little moth only about a quarter of an inch long. It’ll hit apples, crabapples, birch, cherry, hawthorn, willow, and ash. It’ll lay the eggs, the pupa will hatch and eat my leaves and poop all over and curl the leaves and leave bits of silk, and then turn into a moth and start all over again with a 30 day life cycle.
Luckily it looks like they can be controlled with Sevin and similar pesticides. I don’t really like using these products, especially on a fruit tree, but this IS an invasive species, and I don’t have any apples on the tree currently, and if I don’t do something I may never have any apples. So. these bugs have a date with the sprayer.