Persimmon Attack

by Daisy

When I was a kid, persimmon attacks were common, particularly among the brothers in my family.

Actually, exclusively among the brothers in my family.

I’m under a different kind of persimmon attack now. And while the attack of yesteryear (being pelted with persimmons) is unpleasant, this new kind is bad in a different way.

My Japanese persimmon is being attacked by the persimmon psyllid (Trioza diospyri). So this is not good, and it’s unexpected. After all, one of the great things about having persimmon trees is their characteristically pest-resistant nature.

I first noticed the baby leaves at the tips of the branches were looking curled and wrinkled.


I wondered why, so I took a closer look.


Underneath the leaf, as I uncurled the leaf edges, I found this white, powdery, somewhat sticky substance, and what seemed to be insect larvae. They were very small, so small that I needed to take a picture and zoom in tight to see what they looked like.

IMG_2454A few searches for powdery insects on persimmon leaves later, I identified them as persimmon psyllid. There’s a better photo below. See entire article here:

persimmon_psylla2 Nymph of the persimmon psylla, Trioza diospyri (Ashmead). Photograph by Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

I hunted around for another incarnation of this creature and found a more mature nymph hiding at the base of a leaf.

IMG_2445A closer look:

IMG_2446The nymphs (immature form of some invertebrates) hatch and inject toxins in the leaf edges causing them to curl. It makes them hard to get at as they hide in the recesses of the curled leaf edge.

The adults look like this:

persimmon_psylla1Adult persimmon psylla, Trioza diospyri (Ashmead). Photograph by Lyle Buss, University of Florida.

While it doesn’t usually cause devastating damage, it stunts the new growth. On a small tree like mine, I don’t want to lose any time before I start to get my first fruits, so this is a pain. As the tree matures and there is proportionately less “succulent” (new, tender) growth, it will be less of a problem.

You can spray for this, but I’m just hand-smushing the larvae and nymphs.

This is more of a worry in the US Southeast where I’m located than in more northern areas. Be on the lookout, though, wherever you are. Things are migrating further and further every year.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: How do they find me?


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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie May 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Have you considered neem oil for this? It saved my eucalyptus tree which was nearly decimated by the pine bark borer. This was my last ditch effort after losing my deodora pine, cedar tree, and tibouchina plant. It’s the safest thing I’ve found so far for larger plants.

Good luck with your tree.

Daisy May 29, 2014 at 6:37 am

Debbie–Thanks for the tip. I’m going to watch it and see if I got them all for now. If I see continuing damage I’ll have to try that.

Paulette May 30, 2014 at 4:04 pm

You might also try spraying with a mix of water with a few drops of Dawn. Google DIY insect sprays. That can be used on aphids and other sapsucking insects. I have used it a lot on my Meyer lemon tree that seems to have something similar but it doesn’t attack the leaves. It really works. Insect was worse in winter so I would spray it, then the next day, use hose to spray it off. Had to do it repeatedly but each time made a bigger dent in the number of insects left on plant. This insect seemed to love that the tree was covered to prevent freeze damage!

lise racine July 13, 2014 at 6:27 pm

have you think to try diatomaceous earth? (sorry for my english)

Neil April 29, 2016 at 11:56 pm

I purchased two different species of persimmon trees at a plant auction last fall near Lebanon, pa. Which were unfortunately infected as you described but my trees went dormant for the winter. Now as new growth reemerges, leaves are curled, terminal growths are turning black and dying, and black rot is spreading towards older growth via the pith of the stems. HELP!!!!

Daisy May 1, 2016 at 8:40 am

Neil–The first couple of years my persimmon was growing I had a problem with this, but they never did any serious damage and each subsequent year the damage became less and less. My trees never seemed to suffer any long-term harm and I never really did anything to combat them beyond a bit of squishing the first year. The tree I planted in 2013 is at least 12 feet tall now and shows no sign of Trioza diospyri. I do maintain a small guild around the trunk and fertilize every year with chicken manure. You can read a bit about my guild in the following post:
I hope your tree recovers.

m Brummermann June 29, 2016 at 10:41 am

The older nymph you believe to have found seems to be a lacewing nymph instead – there to hunt whatever smaller bugs he can find. So spray and kill your biological pest control with the pest.

Daisy June 30, 2016 at 5:10 pm

m Brummermann–Thanks for the id. I gave up trying to spray anything years ago. It always seemed like an inelegant, jackbooted intrusion into a far more complex system than I had any business trying to insert myself into. Your id reinforces that. The persimmon tree is flourishing.

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