Pied Beauty

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:

Praise him.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Catfacing on Pears

Pears in Texas are commonly harvested in August, and it looks like it's been a good year, for the most part.  The winter weather we had ensured that most of our trees got enough chill hours to flower well, and we haven't had to endure the droughts of last year.  I've seen some great looking pears, but also some with catfacing.

Catfacing Damage on Pears

What causes this kind of fruit deformation?  Sucking insects, such as leaffooted bugs, boxelder bugs, stink bugs and lygus bugs.  These insects feed on the surface of the developing fruit, killing cells.  As the fruit matures, it dimples into what someone must have thought looked like a cat's face.  By the time you see this level of damage, it's too late to treat the cause.  Most of these insects migrate in from nearby fields or fly up from debris on the orchard floor.  Normally, this is only a sporadic problem.  You may not have it every year or you may only have the problem on a few of your trees.  Monitor closely early and late in the season, during pre-bloom through early fruit development and again in late summer or early fall.  Look for the adults and nymphs who are feeding on developing or mature fruit. 

 (Leaffooted Plant Bug, Adult and Nymph)

To control them, watch for groundcovers that harbor overwintering adults.  Limit overuse of insecticidal sprays (organic or conventional) that may harm natural predators.  As a last resort, use an insecticidal spray in the spring just as adults emerge from hibernation, usually around petal-fall.  Don't apply unless the problem is severe: these insects rapidly build up resistance and the sprays do harm natural predators.  For that reason, spot treatment is better than spraying everything in sight.  Don't spray during bloom: all listed products are toxic to pollinators. 

One of several Lygus bug species.  Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for your very helpful post! Some of our pears here in Utah had catfacing and I have been thinking it was stinkbugs. We sprayed with dormant oil late winter before budbreak, and I was trying to figure out where they were coming from to help control it next year. You answered my question. My husband had left a rather large pile of grass near our apricot tree, which is right next to our pear tree, and I noticed quite a lot of box elder bugs all around it when harvesting our apricots. We also have a huge open field adjacent to our property. Going to get it all cleaned up and then hopefully, won't have this problem next year! Thanks again for sharing your insights!