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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pomegranate Fruit Failure May Be Due to Funny Looking Bug

Q. I wonder if you could tell me why my pomegranate tree is not letting the pomegranates ripen on the tree.  I have many but they are falling before their time. I would greatly appreciate an answer.

Leaffooted or Leaf footed plant bug on pomegranate.
A. For pomegranates to fall to the ground before they are ready would be highly unusual. My guess is that your tree may have been attacked by the leaf footed plant bug. This insect is in the valley and can attack many different fruit trees but is notorious for causing early nut drop in pistachio and almond. It can also cause early fruit drop in pomegranates.

            A close examination of the tree may reveal these insects in the hundreds. Look for them. I have attached a picture of them on pomegranate. If this is the case, you will require an insecticide application starting around late May or June. The preferred insecticide is probably going to be one of these synthetic pyrethroids.

            This is not the name which you will see on the label. This is the active ingredient. There are many, many manufacturers of this type of insecticide so I cannot tell you the exact trade name on the label. It will vary among companies.

            The label should recommend it for fruit and vegetables and the active ingredients should have some sort of pyrethroid or permethrin or something very similar to this.

            I wish I could tell you exactly the name but the nurseries carry different products. The other option is to spray it with a traditional insecticide for fruit such as Sevin. Both will work.

            The pyrethroids are a bit more kind to other insects and the environment. Both of these products will hurt honey bees so make sure you spray at dusk or just before sunrise when the bees have not started to look for food.


  1. Thank you. I didn't ask the original question, but this is the information I was looking for. I harvested my poms this morning and found about a half dozen of these bugs, and yes, many of the fruit had fallen off prematurely. The fruit that is undamaged never gets red inside. Do all pom varieties have red arils, or are some naturally white-ish? Or... is none ripening, white arils part of the outcome from having these leaffooted bugs? Thanks you for your help!

  2. The seeds or arils range in color from the color of teeth (creamish white, not the chemically treated teeth) to dark red and a wide range in between. There is no relationship between color and taste that I could ever tell except the tanins or puckery part. Seems that the red arils are usually more puckery, but not always. There are some very sweet whitish ones as well. Good luck on these little devils. I have not heard of a good organic control for them. Usually have to revert to conventional pesticides, some of the synthetic pyrethrins seem to do a good job. Conventionally, Sevin is used but be careful with bees in the area with both of these pesticides.

  3. When my pomegranate tree had an infestation with these bugs, I used a neem oil based spray to get rid of them. 2 Tablespoons of neem oil for every 1 gallon of water, add a little dish soap and shake well. It's organic, and worked 100% for me.