Preventing Insects from Attacking your Serviceberry Trees

The serviceberry is a small tree or shrub that grows well in most soils, and is known under a variety of names including the Juneberry or the shadbush tree.

It has multiple stems which sometimes need to be trimmed back to encourage the growth of a single trunk, but they can also be encouraged when the serviceberry is grown as part of a hedge.

It grows rich purple fruit in the late spring which is eagerly eaten by birds—it is often used in wildlife gardens to attract songbirds and insects to the garden.

7 Insects of the Serviceberry Tree

  1. Pear Sawfly attacks the leaves of the serviceberry tree, turning the leaves black, and essentially skeletonising them. Their larvae resemble small tadpoles, and in this guise they "overwinter" in the ground around trees. They cause trees to appear scorched, and may occasionally skeletonise a tree. Fruit will also be eaten, and the serviceberry will lose vigour if repeatedly attacked by the pear sawfly.
  2. Other pests leave larva that cocoon on the underside of leaves and scrapes off the pulp so that leaves become see-through.
  3. Cambium miners eat away at the pulp under the bark, forming pale lines in the bark and can result in secondary infestations such as mold or other insects.
  4. Leaf miners eat the pulp of the leaves, leaving a skeletal leaf structure behind them.
  5. Aphids cause a noticeable sticky liquid called honeydew that can actually develop mold, and become an unsightly garden feature.
  6. Spider mites suck cells from leaves, and cause damage to plants such as the serviceberry.
  7. Gypsy moths may also attack the serviceberry during the larval stage, eating the leaves and generally defoliating the tree.

Insect prevention

The best way of preventing against any insect infestation is to improve the health of the tree. High stress levels, desiccation or over watering will make the plant more vulnerable to insects, so good care of the serviceberry is the best way to prevent infestation.

Another good way is to encourage predatory insects such as wasps and beetles to visit the tree—these will eat aphids, mites, and the larvae of many of the bugs which cause a serviceberry trees so many problems.

Pear Sawflies, while they can decimate a tree, are generally not considered to be a returning problem, and insecticides and other poisons should not be used—encourage predatory insects, and pick off any visible larvae.

There is no commonly used prevention for the borer, except encouraging the tree to be healthier.

Aphids are a constant problem to the gardener, and individuals usually develop their own methods of preventing the little pests. Non-chemical controls such as ladybird beetles are an ideal way of managing them. Ants sometimes ‘protect’ aphids - a food source – by scaring off other predators, so keep an eye out for these insects, and try and limit their activity.

Spider mites can be eliminated by horticultural oil, which loosens their grip, but does not harm beneficial insects. Sprays of soapy water can also get rid of spider mites without affecting insect populations.