Newly Registered
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Joined: Wed May 23, 2007 8:48 pm
Location: Kokomo IN

Red leaf sand cherry tree not growing; bugs attacking

I planted a red-leaved sandcherry tree (I think it's a dwarf; will grow to 10-15 feet I believe) about 3 years ago. Every year I think it's going to die because bugs eat the leaves. I can't figure out what kind of bugs they are; every time I look at it I don't see bugs. I know it's not Japanese beetles because the leaves are just completely eaten, and aren't lacey-looking like with Jap. beetles. What should I be using to prevent/kill bugs on this tree? I'm assuming this is why it is not growing. Any comments are appreciated!

Senior Member
Posts: 203
Joined: Sun Aug 13, 2006 4:15 am
Location: Virginia, zone 7

I think cherry trees are a popular food among the larva of swallowtail butterflies (image: [url]https://www.megkazul.net/butterflies/display.php?image=swallowtail06.jpg[/url]) and the larva of other butterflies. I've never seen a tree die because of caterpillars, even when all of the leaves are eaten, so I think the tree will be fine. The larva of butterflies are very fickle about what they eat and will not hurt any other plant in your yard. You will probably not notice them on the plant because they roam on it individually (unlike moth larva which form huge community nests). Moth larva are less picky about what they eat and might damage other plants as well.

Is the tree native to your area or did you buy it from a nursery? I would be surprised if caterpillars were eating a non-native tree. I don't think the mother butterfly would lay eggs on a plant she'd never seen before because she couldn't be sure if the larva would like it or not.

If I'm wrong and it's not caterpillars causing the damage, maybe you should follow my friend's advice; I had a similar problem and a friend of mine told me to treat the tree with fungicide. Apparently aphids and other small parasites don't like this treatment and will leave the tree if you put fungicide on it. I'm not sure why.

Newly Registered
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Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:39 pm

Yes and it's very fascinating to see butterflies in such places.

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