We’re starting to get caught up from a week of planting trials last week. Grady County Ag Agent, Brian Hayes, was with me when we stopped by Ronnie Herring’s house to look at some damage to his young Elliot pecans. The leaf tips appeared to be scorched and looking closer Brian found a little worm boring into the stem (below).
It appeared to be pecan budmoth. UGA Extension Entomologist, Dr. Will Hudson has some information in the Southeastern Pecan Growers Handbook:
The pecan budmoth (Gretchina bolliana) is a native pest of pecan and incurs most damage on young, transplanted trees. They overwinter as adults under bark scales then lay eggs on twigs, buds, and shoots in the spring. Once eggs hatch, the larvae feed on and in new buds, shoot apices, and leaves.
The larvae are creamy to dirty white at first, but mature budmoth larvae are one-half inch long, yellow-green, with dark brown head capsules. Once they finish feeding, the larvae pupate in rolled up leaves and damaged buds. It takes about a month for pecan budmoths to complete a generation.
Treatment of mature trees for budmoth is usually not needed or is accomplished through normal spraying of other pests. Control in nursery stock or for newly transplanted trees includes monitoring for budmoth infestation and treated according to need.