Caterpillars inside buds – can’t be killed – and freeze damage

Not many caterpillars have been  found in tree buds, except one crabapple tree in Kingston where I found one caterpillar in every other flower bud cluster today. Caterpillars are tiny and difficult to find at this time. Don’t bother looking for caterpillars now! Wait another week or two until caterpillars are bigger and easier to find


Did cold weather this past week kill caterpillars? I don’t think so, at least not in Washington County. I will check more locations next week. The cold temperatures did kill some apple and blueberry flower buds, but didn’t destroy the crop.

Now is not the time to spray to control winter moth caterpillars.

Cold temperatures Tuesday morning ranged from 16-21 degrees, killing fruit buds in many orchards. Today I was at several farms in Washington and Providence County checking freeze damage to apple and blueberry flower buds. The buds that are the most advanced, such as McIntosh, Cortland, Empire, and Mutsu suffered the most damage. In Washington County, I found very few dead buds. In Providence County I found an average of 60-80% dead apple buds of those buds that were at the half inch green stage. I think this still leaves enough live buds for a decent crop.

To check apple buds, cut the buds in half. See attached pictures.
Blueberries buds are more difficult to tell if they are dead or alive than apple buds. In general, blueberry buds that have stretched out suffered much more damage than blueberries that are closed buds.

Cut blueberry buds diagonally to look for brown areas. Undamaged buds are green inside.
I haven’t seen any live peach flower buds yet. Peach buds were killed during the severe cold weather in February.

What a rotten start to the growing season!

3 McIntosh buds at half inch green
Buds at half inch green

1 6 dead apple buds
5 dead flower buds in this apple bud that’s been cut in half

2 2 dead apple buds
2 out of 5 flower buds dead in this cut open bud

4 damaged blueberry bud
Blueberry bud cut open and see brown interior (dead)