Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Fruit tree damage can be caused by many things. This week we’re focusing on identifying the damage caused by big pests.
Kangaroos, wallabies, deer, rabbits, and hares spring to mind. They often inflict their worst damage at this time of year, especially on newly planted trees.
Hares and rabbits, in particular, seem to absolutely love the fresh green bark of very young trees. They’re more likely to leave older trees alone once the bark has toughened up.
This photo above shows what hare damage looks like, and the one below shows a close-up view (pretty gruesome, isn’t it?)
Figuring out what damaged your fruit tree
The key to effective pest and disease management is to figure out how to protect your trees or fruit from the pest.
This may sound completely obvious.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite of the more conventional approach of trying to get rid of the pest altogether (often with chemicals).
On the whole, the conventional approach doesn’t work. We’re not huge fans of aiming for eradication. It’s expensive, time-consuming, and frustrating, and it rarely solves the problem.
Plus, every animal and insect has its place in the ecosystem—even if you don’t want them near your fruit trees!
The first step in our strategy is to monitor the trees. That way you’ll actually notice if something is causing damage.
Next step is to figure out what’s doing the damage. We explain this strategy in depth in our free Organic Pest & Disease Control webinar.
Looking for the signs
Kangaroos tend to nibble the top of young trees. They seem to find apical [tip] buds especially delicious.
However, much of the damage caused by kangaroos or wallabies seems more incidental than purposeful. It often happens by accident as they clumsily jump past the trees. It results in this type of damage:
Another clue to identify the culprit animal that’s doing the damage is to look carefully on the ground for scats (or poo, as most of us call it).
To help you figure out which animal might be responsible for eating your fruit trees, here are some photos of other types of animal scats (thanks to ABC Science and The Wildlife Trusts for these photos):
Next steps after identifying the culprit
Identifying the animal that’s damaged your fruit tree will inform your next step. Deciding what type of structure to put in place to protect the trees depends on the animal you’re trying to keep out.
Ideally, you will have already provided adequate tree guards before you plant the trees—but you probably won’t!
Most of us are better at responding to things once they’ve happened, rather than taking action to prevent things that might not even happen.
That’s fine, as long as you do respond quickly once you see the damage. Once an animal has discovered where your tasty trees are, be warned—they’ll be back!
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