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Everyone, including pests, loves the taste of a crunchy nut and can risk as much as a full season’s nutrition for a good meal of nuts.
Yes, squirrels are known to be the world’s most popular chestnut eaters but are not the only chestnut eaters that exist.
There exists a list of pests that attack and threaten the healthy life and yields of chestnuts, from the seed-bearing stage until they are fully matured into chestnut trees.
It isn’t surprising though, to have too many predators after the life of a single tree. It is what you get for being really delicious, inviting, and unable to defend yourself.
Given the numerous species of animals that serve as pests to the chestnut tree, I am of the opinion that if the chestnut tree belonged to the animal kingdom, it would fall under the class of homosapiens, and manifest as a really beautiful woman sought after by kings.
But since it is a plant, consider the kings as the numerous pests that plague the existence of the chestnut tree.
The twist of the story is in the fact that these king-pests do not bring gifts and make wars with other nations to have a taste of the goodness embedded in the chestnut.
They rather attack the chestnut tree and cause damage that eventually leads to the death of the chestnut tree.
The chestnut tree transcends the limitations of just science and laboratory tests into the world of arts and artistry, featuring in plays, novels, and movies.
Its name has also become a favorite for poets, playwrights, and novelists who have featured the chestnut in their blood and song titles.
Chestnut is useful in the making of starch for fabrics and linen, chestnut leaf hair shampoo, effective for hair conditioning and moisturizing, and, used in local times to prepare Bach cure.
Even though local herbal practitioners recommend chestnuts for the making of herbs, scientists have said that chestnuts have no scientific proof of curing or preventing any disease.
Regardless of the prevalence of pests in southern Europe and Turkey, chestnut trees have remained a staple source of food for those who inhabit those areas.
It is such that people can easily swap chestnuts for cereals in a year when cereals have low yield.
The history of Chestnut trees before pests become a problem, dates back to the periods in the BCs when Alexander the Great used to plant chestnut seeds across the lands which he and his army crossed while on war campaigns.
Chestnuts were not just being planted by Alexander the Great and his army; the Roman army had a large reserve of chestnuts and history records that there was one time when there was
drought, caused by the incessant wars; chestnuts were the only available food that saved a good number of Roman soldiers from starvation and death.
Chestnuts also had a symbolism to the early Christians. Chestnut was a symbol of chastity and symbolized how pure a virgin ought to be.
It is clear from the above explanation that chestnuts and chestnut trees have qualities that make them the center of human fancy as well as good food for various pests.
In this article, I will be identifying some of the many chestnut pests, laying strong emphasis on how their “pesty” nature and characteristics, act on chestnut trees, which affects the chestnut trees negatively and destroys the healthy life.
If you’ve always fancied the idea of owning a chestnut tree without pests running freely and damaging your produce, this article is the first step to actualizing that dream of yours.
Identification and management of Chestnut Tree Pests
When you think about chestnut tree pests, I guess that your thoughts cut across microscopic insects like spider mites and liverworts.
You are actually correct if this is your idea of the pests of chestnut trees. But, these are not all there is to chestnut tree pests.
There are so many more pests than you ever imagined. If you do not know about these pests, you might channel energy and time to eradicate the microscopic pests and still have your chestnut tree and fruits get eaten up.
This is why this part of this article is devoted to listing as many chestnut tree pests as possible. I will be listing the tree pests in an order that begins from smallest in size.
The following are some chestnut tree pests:
- Chestnut Borers (agrilus billineatus)
- Chestnut Gall Wasps
- Herbivorous and omnivorous animals
Regardless of how harmless these pests might seem at first, they eventually turn against your chestnut, feeding on the leaves, stems, and chestnut fruits.
These pests have their various modes of operation on the chestnut plant and the various ways they contribute to the poor growth of the chestnut plants.
They will each be explained in the proceeding paragraphs.
Aphids are pests that come upon chestnut trees for the sap contained in the leaves.
They are popular for how quickly they multiply and camouflage into their surrounding, making it difficult to truly notice the infestation of aphids.
Aphids are difficult to control and they lodge on the underparts of the chestnut tree leaves. They bore holes into the leave tissue and suck the nutrients in the plant.
Their rapid rate of reproduction is the risk factor for aphid pests. They reproduce both sexually and asexually creating colonies of aphids that quickly cause yellowing and browning of the leaves of chestnut trees.
When leaves get brown, it is a sign that there is a loss of chlorophyll in the plant cells, which makes it impossible to carry out photosynthesis.
If the infestation of aphid pests persists for long periods without check, your chestnut tree suffers the risk of stunted growth and soon, the leaves begin to wilt and fall off.
When this happens, chestnut trees can no longer bloom or produce fruits and their wood loses quality.
Management of Aphid Pests
The following are ways you can manage, control, and get rid of aphids on your chestnut tree:
- Use overhead spraying of water with a pressure hose, to dislodge the aphids from the chestnut leaves
- Dust the leaves with baking soda or baking flour. This inhibits aphid respiration, which leads to their death
- Apply Neem oil solution to the affected leaves
2. Chestnut Borers
Chestnut borers are a set of exotic beetles that usually comes upon a chestnut tree to finish the work of some other pest or disease.
This means that they attack already weakened chestnut trees and finish off the life in these trees. These pests feed on the leaves of the chestnut trees, especially the leaves at the top of the tree.
They can get that high because of their high-powered wings and ability to lift high enough into the air. They lay their eggs on the tree barks where there are little cracks.
While adult borers feed on leaves, their larvae feed on the stems and boreholes through weak stems. Prolonged periods of infestation lead to the complete death of the chestnut tree.
Remember that these pests are finishers that come to ensure that a weak chestnut tree is finished off. Therefore your chestnut tree has to be kept healthy at all times.
Management of Chestnut Borers
Even though there are species of chestnut borers that prove difficult to control, you can record a good amount of success in the control of these pests, if you do the following:
- Ensure your chestnut trees has adequate sunlight and stay in good growing conditions.
- Water the chestnut trees as at when due. A drought-stressed tree is usually targeted for these pests.
- Ensure to trim leaves that already have pests and diseases growing in them.
3. Chestnut Gall Wasps
The chestnut Gall wasp pests are prevalent in China and Asian countries.
It is one pest that attacks every available species of chestnut. Therefore, it does not matter where these wasps find themselves, they are always able to survive as long as there are chestnut trees around the place.
An adult chestnut Gall wasp is about 2.5 meters long and can produce about a hundred eggs in a single layer. You do not need a soothsayer to say that this rate of spread on the leaves will leave the chestnut tree ready to die in a few months.
These pests are notorious for their gall production on trees which inhibits the Leaf and stem the growth of the tree.
Even though chestnut trees have systems of repair, there are few situations where chestnut wasps have been traced to be the cause of death of the chestnut tree.
Management of Chesnut Gall Wasps
To get your chestnut tree free of gall wasps, you need to do the following:
- Because of how invasive these pests tend to be, it is usually advisable to employ biological pest control techniques
- Introduce natural predators of the gall wasp pests into the chestnut tree.
- Expose the chestnut tree to an adequate amount of sunlight daily and
- Apply some vinegar to the plant leaves
Weevils are invasive species of pests that attack different plants. They belong to the beetle family but vary in terms of body structure and mouthparts.
Weevils attack chestnut seeds in the soil as well as chestnut fruits on the tree and damage them before they are matured enough to be consumed as food.
Weevils are responsible for holes in chestnuts and premature decay of the chestnut fruits. They live inside the fruit of plants they attack, hence their control method should follow a pattern that is effective enough to dislodge them from within pericarps.
Management of Weevils
The following are ways to manage weevils:
- Sprinkle liquid soap solution from time to time on the chestnut leaves
- Use commercially recommended pesticides that do not harm the tree or soil
- Use Disease Resistant chestnut species.
5. Herbivorous and Omnivorous Animals.
The bigger players.
Certain herbivorous and omnivorous animals based on their love for nuts, constitute pests to chestnut trees.
Animals like the deer, squirrel, and birds, feed on the sap, leaves, and fruits of this chestnut tree, which leads to a decline in the productive capacity of the tree
Managing Herbivorous and Omnivorous Chestnut Pests
You cannot take measures to kill these types of pests, but you can greatly control their occurrence and access to your chestnut tree.
The following are ways to control herbivorous and omnivorous pests.
- Construct fences around the chestnut tree to keep these pests away
- For the birds, construct bird traps on the tree
- Make use of scarecrows and dummies that keep birds and other herbivores away.
Do Chestnut Trees Need to Be Sprayed
Yes, Chestnut trees need to be sprayed against pests.
You can employ the use of mild pesticides that guarantee gradual removal or you can get commercialized pesticides that can guarantee fast action.
It all depends on the rate of infestation. If the rate of aphid infestation or chestnut borer Infestation is high and the tree is at risk of destruction, I recommend the use of commercial fast action pesticides.
But, if the situation is that of a mild infestation and you’re just noticing the gradual filling of the trees by the pests, all you need do, is to spray lightly with natural solutions like vinegar or neem oil.
Continuous spray on the pests for a week or two can return your chestnut tree to normal.
When Do You Fertilize Chestnut Trees
Fertilizer application should come by early spring, just before the start of a new growth phase.
By this act, your chestnut roots have enough nutrients to sponsor growth for the year.
Applying during winter or when the season is almost over isn’t advisable, as it leads to a waste of nutrients.
Sometimes, late fertilizing makes chestnut trees overbusy and unable to produce fruits.
It also alters the soil pH and might be the cause of the massive attack of pests.
Are Coffee Grounds Good For Chestnuts
Do you have Some coffee that you would want to dispose of in your waste bin? If yes, then I’d advise you not to dispose of the coffee.
I’d rather that you pour the coffee around the base of your chestnut tree. By doing this you are helping to boost the nitrogen content of the soil.
Coffee grounds are a good store of nitrogen, hence, by adding coffee to the soil, you are helping its nitrogen content.
However, care should be taken to add the coffee correctly and at the right time, to avoid nutrient excessiveness.
Chestnut trees have numerous pests that attack, feed, and live on them. Your chestnut trees are going to have a low yield and probably die off if these pests are not managed and controlled.
In this article, you have been able to identify the most popular chestnut tree pests and how to control them.
Feel free to leave a comment about other pests you know, that attack chestnuts.