We have a mature cherry tree in our backyard in Victoria. I'm not sure of the type since we didn't plant it, but it produces small, sweet red cherries. We were able to harvest a reasonable amount of fruit the the first couple of years we lived here, but the past couple of years, the cherries have withered and turned brown just as they were starting to set. The leaves are full of holes and there are tiny ants all over the tree (although I don't see any signs of aphids). Thinking that it must be a caterpillar, I sprayed the tree with BTK last year, but with no noticeable improvement.
UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Burnaby, BC
Re: What is eating my cherry tree?
Depending on when the Btk was applied last year, it may not have had any effect at all - it needs to be at the right time (see Btk factsheet from BC Ministry of Forests.
This looks like caterpillar damage to me, but it's strange you're not finding any bug that might be the cause of the problem. Perhaps go out at different times of day (and night?) to see if you can spot the culprit.
Thanks to you all for your help with this. I've been looking, but still can't spot anything other than the ants. I agree it must be caterpillars, so will try the Btk earlier next year.
Lactose Free - did your tree have ants as well? We'd like to take advantage of the shade from the tree, but can't sit under it without having them crawl all over us. Will solving the caterpillar problem solve the ant problem as well or are they unrelated?
I have ants in my cherry tree too. They seem to walk up to the top and turn around and walk back down. What are they looking for?
Last year was the first year it had any cherries. 12 flowers and 3 cherries but none matured. This year nothing, I think Ive had the tree about 4 years. Last year it lost 2 branches in an accident. Its the most scragely tree Ive ever seen. But about 12 feet tall.
I saw a lot of Ants on my trees this Spring so I bought Ladybugs to go after the Aphids that the Ants are farming. Ants drink the sticky sweet gooo excriment from Aphids. Yummy.
We applied Beneficial Nematodes to our garden this year. They get rid of pest larvae by invading them and eating them from the inside.
I planted some Nasturtium around the trees to grow up and around the trunks. Nasturtiums distract Aphids and other pests from the host plant. They move over to the Nasturtiums and eat there. But Nasturtiums are toxic to Aphids and so they die. I think I will apply some sticky trap go like a ring around the trunks of my trees to trap the Caterpillars and Ants on the way up the trunk. I need to find what is available. Next year I will apply the Btk when the leaf buds first appear and see what happens with Caterpillars. I recently read something about Hot Pepper spray. I also have been reading about companion planting. I bought some aromatic herbs to place around my fruit trees to see if Aphids really are repelled by aromatic herbs.
It was pruned by the nursery when I got it. The one branch grew near the ground. I cut that one off and one of the two braches out grew the other by about 4 feet. I cut some off that one and this summer about 6 branches are growing out of the end of the one I cut. The other branch has a few coming out but they are sticking out in all directions like a bad hair do.
The tree looks like something out of Dr Suess,s Cat in the Hat.
Hi -- I have something that sounds similar happening on a cherry tree on Samish Island, in WA. The leaves seem to have been chewed off, and the stems are left sticking out. This happened mostly on a rather sickly little tree that had a "gummy mess" last year (bacterial canker??), but also on a larger, mostly healthy tree, and another healthier tree that is also new this year. I did spot what looked like a cherry fruit fly on the largest tree, but it was only one... and I didn't think that cherry fruit flies do this sort of damage.
I'm stumped, too! Does anyone know what this might be?
I heard the pests were bad this year in Victoria. We definately had Caterpillars in our tree. Right now we have Aphids. I bought some Ladybugs but I am not sure that they stuck around. I have read about some beneficial insects that do not leave once released. They work best on Aphids.
As for the Cherry tree, I am not a pruning expert, but I would be inclined cut off the top side branches and leave the two leaders to continue growing up. I would encourage banching lower in the tree around the crotch area. Depending on which root stock your tree is on, it could grow more vigorously (Mazzard) or less so (Gisela). I have two Cherry trees one on each stock. The Mazzard root stock Cherry will be a sturdy tree. The two leaders are quite high. I suppose I could cut the leaders quite low and encourage lots of side branching to have a short ornamental looking Cherry. Take a picture of your tree in to a nursery and ask what you should do.