What's eating my pears?


#1

Between several young Asian pear trees I probably lost one or two hundred pears in the last week or so, mostly from trees that are far enough away from the house that I haven’t been able to keep a close eye on them, but also from one tree 50’ from the house. I’d say it looks more like pecking damage than chewing/gnawing damage. Do squirrels ever scrape fruit out with their claws? Is that another option? Some pears are almost hollowed out with quite a bit of the skin still intact. A lot of pears seem to have been carried off and gone. I’ve found some partially eaten pears much further away from the tree than they could have fallen and rolled, so some animal is carrying them off but not necessarily the same animal that’s eating them in the tree. I see damage like in this photo to some pears still hanging in the tree, but I think all of these were on the ground. They’re not yet ripe. Damage has started appearing on my late maturing, unripe European pears now. Some of these pear trees are 300’ or more from the nearest woods, far enough away that I wouldn’t expect squirrel damage so much, but the amount of damage is more than I would expect from birds, unless maybe it’s a flock of crows. Do crows (or any other birds big enough to carry off a decent size pear) eat fruit/pears? But one tree quite close to the house had a lot of damage, too, and I haven’t ever seen crows that close to the house, which at first had me suspecting something like a mockingbird, but the amount of damage just seems to great for smaller birds working on their own (not in a flock.) A fair number of pears seem to be getting knocked off the tree and lost in the tall grass beneath the tree, which also makes me suspect a larger animal, besides the likelihood that the animal carrying some of the pears off is also the main culprit. Whatever this problem is, it’s new this year. Given that it hasn’t been a problem before, I’m hoping I can trap or shoot whatever is causing this damage and eliminate the problem that way, at least for another few years.


#2

Same here for me, pretty sure its squirrels. I just hope they leave me enough to enjoy a few…

Scott


#3

So sorry but I have the same problem. I only took 1 pic this morning. I only have a few left on the tree.


#4

Squirrels do love pears, but you can usually see incisor marks if it is squirrels. Crows tend to leave wedgie shaped wounds.


#5

Do you mean like with the pear in the bottom right corner of my photo? That hole is probably about 1/2" deep but no more than 1/4" wide.

Courtney’s damage looks to me like what I would expect (not that I really know) squirrel damage to look like, but I haven’t seen any that look like that.


#6

Yes, that looked like a crow ding to me. Also, crows seem to like fruit that is at the tree top, and they’ll notch the top of the fruit as it sits on the tree.


#7

Squirrels like to get the whole pear, not just eat parts of fruits on the trees. I bought those nylon fruit wrappers.
I can reuse them for several years.


#8

Where did you get the nylon fruit wrappers? They don’t create a mini-greenhouse that cooks the fruit at all, do they? Do they affect moisture or rot issues?


#9

I don’t have much left to lose this year, and what I have left to lose will probably be all gone before I could get the bags, but I might want to have some on hand for another time. But if it’s crows that are causing my trouble, I need to find a way to trap or shoot them, because I’ve been growing about an acre of field corn every year for the last 15 years and the last three years the crows have ruined almost all of it, so they’re not just a problem with fruit. The fact that I didn’t have hardly any trouble for so many years gives me hope that if I can eliminate the crows currently in the neighborhood that the problem might disappear completely for multiple years again.


#10

Amazon and EBay all have those nylon fruit wrappers. Ali express is cheaper, but it takes longer time to get them. They are shipped from China.
They also use them to wrapp corn, but too much cost and a lot of work for one acre of corn.
Last year, I used the plastic bags to wrap my pears, but I found a lot of pears were rotten in the bags. So I get this kind of wrappers that won’t trap water and air inside.
Frost killed all my fruits this year. I can’t tell you my experience this year. I am not sure those nylon wrappers can be strong enough to protect from squirrels, but enough to birds and stink bugs.


#11

The squirrels chew right thru the ziplocks to get to my pears


#12

Sophia,
I am using them this year. Got the idea from @patrick. I think the material is sturdier than that of organza bags.

The good news is Squirrels may not be able to chew through this nylon.

The bad news is It does not meant they can’t bite stems of our pears off and try to ruin the pears inside.

We’ll see. I am not as optimistic as you are.


#13

If present in the area, consider possums, they tend to hollow out fruit and leave it behind and have a much coarser bite than a squirrel.


#14

Can possum climb up the tree?


#15

Yes,. Their weight will also break small branches.


#16

Looks like bird damage to me.


#17

My latest thinking is that it has to be bird damage, but I’m not so sure that it’s crows any more.

Anyone have any thoughts on whether random little birds (mockingbirds, etc.) can eat/ruin 100-200 Asian pears in one week? That’s just more damage than I would expect from random little birds not in large flocks. And would they knock a bunch of pears off the tree even before they’re ripe? I’ve seen plenty of damaged pears still hanging in the tree, but the number of pears on the ground had me suspecting something more like a crow in size.


#18

@cousinfloyd,
I must have 30 mocking birds but I don’t see any damage like that. The windfalls I have get marks like that which I assume is from opossums or pack rats. They never climb my trees. Once the pears hit the ground things feed on them here.


#19

I’ve never had any damage like this in years past either, so it seems like whatever is doing this damage doesn’t normally do it, at least not around here. I definitely have had damage to pears still in the tree, though. I’d say about 25% have been damaged in the tree (some almost completely hollowed out), about 25% I’ve found on the ground (most of those have been damaged just like the ones in the trees but a few seem to have been knocked out of the tree without any significant damage but well before ripening), and about 50% seem to just be completely gone, as if something carried them off or ate every last bit of them.


#20

Any one animal or group of animals can affect any local fruit tree in any one year. Once started, those same animals will likely return in following years. Depending on ripeness, possum-chewed fruit may remain in the tree.