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Rednecked Cane Borer

Rednecked Cane Borer, Agrilus ruticollis (Fabricius), can be identified by the reddish section (thorax) behind their head the rest of the body is black. Rednecked Cane Borer can be a serious pest of raspberries and blackberries throughout northern united states. Adult rednecked cane borers attack foliage, often feeding on the upper leaf surfaces during the day leaving irregular holes. Larvae feed on primocanes and form irregular swellings or galls. Galls are between 1 to 3 inches in length and often split the bark.

Rednecked Cane Borer

Rednecked Cane Borer

Most galls are found at ground level but they maybe as much as 4 feet above the ground. Infested canes die or become so weakened they cannot support a crop the following season. Rednecked cane borers may infest as much as 50 percent of the canes in one or two year old plantings. Girdled canes are predisposed to winter injury.

Life Cycle: Adults are present from May to August, or late April to early June, depending on the region. Females lay white spherical eggs on the trunk, and produce a yellow viscous material from the ovipositor which is smoothed over into a covering, before fading to white or grey. Larvae exit the egg directly into the plant, never becoming exposed, and so are impervious to sprays. Young larvae are restricted to the cambium, circling the cane 3-4 times in a close spiral, girdling the primocane, and producing gall-like swellings.

As larvae grow, they extend feeding deeper into wood and pith, and staightening the spiral and heading usually toward the distal end of the cane (tunnels may extend 15 cm below to 64 cm above the gall). Larvae reach a length of 12 mm, and have a pair of horn-like projections on the posterior end. The larvae are white and legless, with a flattened head (the family is often called flatheadeded borers). Larvae winter in the cane, and in March create a pupal chamber.

Rednecked Cane Borer

Rednecked Cane Borer

The pupa is formed in late April. The pupal period lasts 20-40 days. When the adult leaves the pupal skin, it remains in the tunnel for about 10 days before chewing a D-shaped emergence hole. Adults feed on foliage for several days before beginning oviposition. They are most easily found on the plants on warm sunny days. There is one generation annually.

Damage: Adults feed on foliage, causing only minor leaf loss. The major damage is done by the larvae as they girdle the canes. This in turn slows growth, favoring the insect. The girdling weakens the canes and, as a result, fruit production is limited from infested canes. In extreme cases, the cane may be killed outright.

Controls: After leaf fall or during winter pruning, note galls. If more than 10% of the primocanes are infested, or if the number of primocanes expected to be pruned off is exceeded, a spray in justified. Examine primocanes for adults twice weekly, beginning at the beginning of bloom. Damage is minimized when malathion is applied at intervals of 7-12 days from the time the first beetles appear early to mid May until early June last emergence. Often two sprays will suffice, just before bloom and about two weeks later or the end of bloom, whichever is later. Spray toward the base of canes, avoiding areas with any residual blooms.

Rednecked Cane Borer damage

Rednecked Cane Borer Damage

Remove galled canes in dormant season or early spring. This is most effective if nearby wild hosts are eliminated, and also more effective in open settings wild brambles in nearby woods provide a source of wild beetles. Summer pruning also may provide a substantial reduction in rednecked cane borer infestation, since by the time new shoots appear, they have escaped much of the oviposition period of rednecked cane borer.

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