Fruit Pest Control Guide: Cherry (Sweet and Tart)

utah home orchard guide
Table of Contents pdf version

Refer first to General Orchard Management Practices section for non-chemical options. For successful control of most pests, a combination of cultural and chemical methods is recommended. Pests are organized by tree species and growth stage. Refer to Tree Fruit Growth Stages section for photos and names of tree development stages. Specific dates for timing of pest controls refer to optimal dates in northern Utah. For southern Utah, move dates earlier by 3 to 4 weeks.

Cherry (Sweet and Tart)

Pests Target life stage / Timing Materials / Protection Interval

Green tip to tight cluster


Overwinter as eggs or immatures on limbs; take advantage of their exposure at this time

dormant oil° alone or with malathion, permethrin, or gamma-cyhalothrin (single application)

Petal fall

Black cherry aphid
(sweet cherry only)

Cause severe leaf curling and produce abundant sticky honeydew; best to control before leaves are tightly curled

insecticidal soap°, horticultural oil (1%)°, azadirachtin°, malathion, or gamma-cyhalothrin

Many beneficial insects help suppress aphids; avoid insecticides unless necessary

Powdery mildew

Spores overwinters on dead leaves and in cracks on trunk; protect new leaves as needed

propiconazole, potassium bicarbonate, or sulfur

Repeat throughout emergence of new leaves; sulfur may burn leaves, especially when temperatures >90°F

Fruit present

Western cherry fruit fly
Apple maggot

Larvae (maggots) feed within fruits; treat when fruits develop a rose blush color (see Pest Biology section)

spinosad° (7 days), gamma-cyhalothrin (7 days), carbaryl (5 to 7 days), malathion (3 to 5 days), or pyrethrin° (3 to 5 days)

Reapply based on protection intervals noted above (and see product labels) through fruit harvest; carefully follow required interval between last spray and harvest (see product labels)

Perennial (cytospora) canker

Cankers develop on trunk and limbs; stressed and older trees are most at risk

Keep trees growing vigorously; prune out dead branches, especially those with cankers in late summer or early spring (when dry)

No effective sprays

Crown and root rots

A water mold, Phytophthora, causes cankers, wilt of leaves, and limb dieback in wet, poorly drained soils

phosphorous acid (as a foliar spray preventive)

Remove dead/dying tree(s); do not replant in the same location or plant trees too deep

Avoid excessive irrigation: don’t allow trunk to be constantly wet and keep emitters of drip irrigation away from the trunk

Tree and root borers

Flatheaded and roundheaded borers attack trunks and limbs, while root borers tunnel in roots and crowns

Prevent infestations in at-risk trees (young, stressed, or in decline) when adults are active in June and July; only necessary when borer populations are known to be high in an area

carbaryl or permethrin bark spray to crown, trunk, and lower scaffolding limbs in mid-June

Only single application required if timing is good

Entomopathogenic nematodes or fungi may be effective for root borers

Spider mites

Most likely to become a problem during hot, dry conditions in July to September when mites reproduce rapidly; only treat if  “leaf burn” is evident (look for russeting of leaves and small mites on undersides of leaves)

Wash tree down with stiff spray of water, or apply horticultural oil (1%)° or insecticidal soap°

Predator mites commonly suppress spider mites, so avoid disruptive insecticides (e.g., pyrethroids)

Pear sawfly (cherry or pear slug)

Slug-looking larvae feed on the upper epidermal layer of leaves causing skeletonizing; trees can tolerate low populations

spinosad°, malathion, or carbaryl

One application should suffice

°Organic products available

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