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Elderberry Pests

Elderberry Pests

Elderberry Pests. Elderberry plants appear as shrubs or trees along riverbanks and in open riparian areas. They produce purplish black clusters of edible berries. Elderberries have few insect pests, and most are fairly easily controlled by pest predators and simple maintenance techniques used by growers.

Elderberry plants appear as shrubs or trees along riverbanks and in open riparian areas. They produce purplish black clusters of edible berries. Elderberries have few insect pests, and most are fairly easily controlled by pest predators and simple maintenance techniques used by growers.
Threats
Birds serve as the major pest of elderberries. The University of Missouri Extension notes that more than 45 species of birds eat the fruits of the plant. To combat berry loss to birds, cover ripening berries in netting and harvest them promptly. Few insects pose a significant problem for elderberries. In addition to aphids, elder shoot borers and cecropia caterpillars, sawfly larvae, eriophyid mites, fall webworms and the soft scale pest, called the European fruit lecanium, may affect elderberry plants.
Misconceptions
While birds may compete with humans for a portion of the berry crop, the role of birds extends beyond that of pest. Birds spread the seed in the wild, helping bring about growth of new elderberry plants.
Effects
Aphids produce a limited amount of damage. Borers can cause the death of elderberry canes, as elder shoot borer larvae enter the elderberry stems, moving into several parts of the plant. The pupa form lives inside dead elderberry canes. Cecropia moth caterpillars feed on elderberry foliage, and one caterpillar has the potential to eat a great deal of foliage.
Prevention/Solution
Water away aphids or prune away aphid-afflicted areas of the plants. Prune out old canes or canes that show signs of borers. Remove cecropia moth caterpillars by hand. According to the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service, few pesticides are labeled for use on elderberry crops.

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