What Are Common Pests of Bradford Pear Trees?


Bradford pear trees, Pyrus calleryana 'Bradford,' are hardy in the U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 5 through 9. They can grow to 40 feet tall and 45 feet wide. Bradford pear trees produce numerous white blooms in the spring, and the leaves turn brilliant shades of dark maroon, red or orange in the fall. The brownish-tan to reddish-brown-color fruits attract birds. Bradford pear trees thrive in well-drained soils. Healthy trees are less susceptible to insect infestations, according to the Clemson University Extension.


  • Aphids, a soft-bodied insect, grow up to 1/8 inch long. Their color depends on the species, but most are black, green or yellow. Typically wingless, aphids can produce wings once a colony becomes overcrowded or the host plant is no longer suitable, according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension. The winged aphids move on to colonize another host plant. Aphid feeding causes distorted growth in Bradford pear trees. They leave behind a secretion called honeydew that develops into sooty mold and attracts other unwanted pests like ants.


  • Scale insects pose the largest threat to ornamental plants, the University of Florida IFAS Extension notes. Scales include mealybugs, armored scales and soft-bodied scales. Scales range in size from 1/8 to 1/2 inch and come in a variety of colors depending on the species. They suck fluid from all parts of the trees, including the leaves, roots and flowers. Plant foliage yellows, wilts, dies or shows little growth. The branches, or even the entire Bradford pear tree, can die if heavy infestations go untreated. Soft scales produce honeydew, which leads to sooty mold.

Shothole Borer Beetles

  • Shothole borer beetles eat the bark on Bradford pear trees and leave the trees susceptible to disease. The 1/8-inch, black-brown bodied pests have red legs. They create tunnels in the bark to protect them from winter conditions and house their eggs. Shothole borers take advantage of already unhealthy trees, according to the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension.

Ash Whitefly

  • The 1/16-inch ash whiteflies initially infest Bradford pear trees as waxy white larvae and molt into adults that feed on the leaves of the tree. The adults have red eyes and yellow-white wings. Ash whiteflies cause the leaves of Bradford pear trees to wilt and drop. The whiteflies also create honeydew that results in sooty mold and attracts other pests to the trees.

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  • Photo Credit Bradford pear bloom image by k9dg from Fotolia.com
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