In spring we recommend visiting your fruit trees at least once a week. Take a few minutes to have a really good look at the leaves, flowers, fruit and bark. It’s a good way to keep track of the health of your tree, and stay ahead of any disease issues that show up.

While you’re there, try to spot any critters in or around the tree, like this fantastic bug we found on an apricot tree.

It doesn’t matter if you can identify the bug or not (though that can sometimes be useful).

A bee working hard on a peach flower
A bee working hard on a peach flower

It’s safe to assume that it’s playing an important role in the ecosystem (like pollination, pest control, or acting as a food source for someone else), even if you don’t know what that is.

What role are insects playing in your fruit trees?

Many people mistakenly think pollination depends solely on bees. In fact, many insects play an important role (you can find out more about this important topic in our short course on Bees and Pollination).

It’s absolutely fascinating trying to figure out what sort of bugs you’ve got, and there’s some great online resources these days to help, like the CSIRO website. There’s also some fantastic apps available, just check out the app store on your smartphone for these.

However, identification is much less important than the fact that you have lots of biodiversity in your garden. In short, the more different types of bugs you can count, the healthier your garden is.

Amazing antennae...
Amazing antennae…

Why is biodiversity so important?

We often get questions from people who have noticed bugs or insects on their fruit or trees, and are wondering if they should get rid of them, and if so how?

That’s not our approach at all!

In a healthy, biodiverse system there should be literally thousands of different types of insects around. They all play a part in an incredibly complex system that will generally keep itself in balance. The key is not to interfere with it.

Unless you’re an insect specialist, there’s little chance that you can identify them all or even understand whether they’re a “pest” or a “predator”. In fact, many are both. For example earwigs are a dratted nuisance in apricot and cherry trees, but a useful predator eating up millions of aphids in apple trees.

An earwig on a leaf  - pest or predator (or both)?
An earwig on a leaf – pest or predator (or both)?

The targeted intervention approach

We take a different approach.

Rather than focusing on the insects themselves, we focus on protecting our fruit and our fruit trees from damage.

How do we do this without aiming to kill all the pests?

The methodology we use is to understand their life cycle. Then we look for vulnerabilities where small, relatively easy physical interventions will prevent damage to your precious fruit.

Over many years of growing fruit organically we’ve worked out the easiest and most effective interventions for most common fruit tree pests. They’re all included in our ebook What’s Bugging My Fruit?.

We gave up years ago trying to get rid of the bugs. It’s usually impossible, frustrating and expensive. The targeted intervention method is much more effective. It’s also much kinder to the environment and the natural world.

So when you’re doing your weekly inspections of your fruit trees, look for bugs. Also look for damage on the fruit and the trees, because that’s what will guide you as to the appropriate prevention techniques.

A spined predatory shield bug
A spined predatory shield bug