Mulberry Tree Pests and Diseases: Our 30-year-old mulberry tree is one of the prized possessions of our household, producing over 50 gallons of berries each year. These large, deciduous trees rarely cause problems, but if you have one on your property, you need to watch out for potential mulberry tree pests and diseases—just in case.
Thankfully, most mulberry tree pests and diseases are minimal and minor, causing minor problems that you can handle with pruning or sprays. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the problem – not at all! Ignoring pests or diseases can lead to bigger problems.
So, let’s take a look at some of the most common mulberry tree pests and diseases you may encounter.
5 Mulberry Tree Pests
While these trees don’t have as many problems as other fruit trees, you should still watch out for common mulberry tree pests.
1. Falling Webworms
This mulberry tree pest is one you may not have heard of before, but they are a common yellow or green caterpillar with a broad, bumpy stripe down the body and a dark head. The adult form is a white insect with dark wing spots. The larvae spin nests at the end of tree branches.
When your tree is infested with large autumn webworms, these pests can eat lots of leaves, but since they only attack at the end of the growing season, they usually don’t cause any real harm; It’s mostly just cosmetic. So, what can you do if webworms have fallen into your mulberry tree?
If you have a small tree, clearing the nests can be quite effective in driving these insects away. Webworms also have many natural predators that may be released into your garden, such as ladybugs and parasitic wasps. gardeners can use Bacillus thuringiensis, Especially when it is applied to the foliage when the webworms are young.
2. Glassy-Winged Sharpshooter
One of the common pests of mulberry trees is called the glass-winged sharpshooter, a 1/2-inch-long, dark brown leafhopper that feeds on the sap of your trees. Typically, these pests do not cause serious harm by feeding directly on plants, but they do emit fluid on plants that can cause problems.
The biggest reason you don’t want glass-winged sharpshooters on your mulberry tree is because they cause a bacterium called xyla fastidius, which leads to a range of plant diseases such as mulberry leaf blight.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to completely get rid of a sharpshooter with glass feathers. Inviting natural predators such as parasitic wasps into your garden is an effective way to control the population, and you can also apply a few applications of insecticidal soap.
You can encourage mealybugs in your garden. These insects have a brown-to-pink body with a waxy coating. Mealybugs tend to form in groups as they feed on your plants, excreting honeydew and reducing your plant’s growth.
Generally, the best way to deal with your mealybug problem is to leave natural enemies in your garden. You can also remove them from your plant with a strong gust of water, or try an insecticidal soap. Keeping your trees healthy is a good way to ensure that your mulberry trees can tolerate mealybug feedings.
One of the most common mulberry tree pests is scales; These trees experience California red scale, oleander scale, and San Jose scale, all of which are armored scale insects that feed on the sap of your tree. At first, these pests are a bit difficult to identify; They look like small bumps on the leaves or bark of your tree.
Scales usually do not cause serious damage unless you have a major infestation. If this happens, you will notice that the leaves are wilting, turning yellow, and dropping leaves prematurely. Large infestations of scales cause cracking of the bark and loss of gums.
Usually, proper gardening techniques such as adequate watering and pruning of affected parts of the tree will take care of an infestation. You can also encourage enemies like ladybugs to leave. Take a look at our guide to getting rid of scales in your garden.
5. White Fly
Mulberry trees are vulnerable to two different types of whiteflies: the giant whitefly and the mulberry whitefly. These pests like to congregate on both lower leaf surfaces, and you can easily spot them because adults have a white, waxy covering on their wings and body.
The problem with white flies is that they suck the sap from the leaves and secrete honeydew on your tree. A bad infestation can cause leaf yellowing and dropping, and when it’s summer outside, you’ll see whitefly populations explode.
Unfortunately, insecticides are not really effective against these pests. Take a look at how to get rid of white flies in your garden; These even work on your mulberry tree!
7 Mulberry Tree Diseases
These diseases can wreak havoc on your trees, potentially killing them or destroying your entire crop. So keep an eye out for any kind of trouble.
1. Armillaria Root Rot
Armillaria root rot is a fungal disease that causes discolored leaves that fall off the tree prematurely. This disease can cause the death of branches or the entire tree.
Unfortunately, armillary root rot is extremely difficult to control, which is why you need to make sure you only plant disease-free stock. If you know the disease was present recently, make sure you don’t plant anything there for a while.
If your mulberry tree becomes afflicted with armillaria root rot, it should be dug up and removed from your fruit orchard. Neither fungicide nor any control method will work for this.
2. Bacterial Blight
Another mulberry tree disease that your tree may experience is bacterial blight. This bacterial disease causes small, black, angular leaves and brown spots on leaves, fruits or flowers.
This bacteria appears when you have poor air circulation around the branches and wet leaves of your tree. This is a recipe for disaster. Sometimes, branches can be cut and the tree can be saved, but if it’s a severe infestation, chances are the tree will need to be gone.
Take a look at our guide to dealing with bacterial blight.
If the leaves of your mulberry tree are wilted and the bark is peeling, you may have a bacterial canker on your tree. It causes black masses of spores in infected areas and eventually dies in tree branches.
Usually, the best way to deal with canker is to prune infected branches. Always make sure you clean up pruning trees as this mulberry tree disease is easily transmitted.
4. Cotton Root Rot
The disease is known by many names, including Phymatotrichum root rot, Texas root rot, and ozonium root rot. Despite the name, it is all the same disease.
Root rot of cotton causes the leaves of your tree to turn yellow or bronze and wither. Disease causes root rot – surprise! While the withered leaves remain attached to the tree. It causes sudden decline and death of your mulberry trees – and we mean sudden. Trees can die within a few weeks.
The problem is, by the time cotton root rot shows signs of disease, it has spread to the entire root system of your tree. There is no cure and you will have to remove the tree to prevent the disease from spreading. It also lives in soil, so don’t plant any susceptible plants there for at least five years.
White mulberries are most susceptible.
5. Downy mildew
If you live in the southern states, your tree may be facing an attack of downy mildew, which is a fungal disease. Downy mildew usually appears in July, causing white spots on the undersides of leaves. Then, the yellowing gametes down and spreads, leaving a cobweb-like coating that looks similar to powdery mildew.
That’s why it’s called downy mildew!
It is not powdery mildew, but gardeners often mistake it for it. Infected leaves fall to the ground, making it easy to spread. Make sure you collect all these ingredients and burn them. To control downy mildew, spray your trees with a fungicide that says it works for downy mildew. Spray as soon as it appears for best results.
6. Popcorn Disease
Here is one of the strangest mulberry tree diseases. This causes the fruits to become larger and elongated; The fruits end up with a popcorn-like appearance that interferes with your harvest. This disease occurs only in the southern states.
You need to be sure to pick and discard all infected fruit, including any fallen berries and debris. Popcorn disease is easily transmitted, so you want to be sure to try to prevent it. Thankfully, it won’t kill your tree, but the fruits will look a bit unsightly.
7. Powdery Mildew
Powdery mildew is a common garden fungal disease that spreads easily. This causes a whitish-gray, powdery mold on the leaves, buds and twigs of your mulberry tree. The disease causes leaves to shrivel and curl up, and may stunt the growth of new shoots.
Our comprehensive guide will help you identify and prevent this extremely common problem.