Mesa County encourages fruit-tree pest control or removal to stop the bugs |

Mesa County encourages fruit-tree pest control or removal to stop the bugs

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9 different fruit pests live in the Grand Valley

Codling moth

Peach twig borer

Greater peach tree borer

San Jose scale

Pear psylla

Shot hole borer

Oriental fruit moth

Western cherry fruit fly

Japanese beetle

SOURCE: Mesa County Weed & Pest Coordinator Melissa Werkmeister

“Everyone thinks it’s a great, romantic idea to grow fruit in the backyard,” Colorado State University Extension Master Gardener Susan Rose said, “but fruit trees are quite a commitment, and pests must be managed.”

“I have one pear tree and a couple grapevines,” Rose added. “I must spray my pears (for pests) every other week all season long, from the time fruit is on the tree until you harvest it.”

Pears and apples are particularly susceptible to a fruit pest called the codling moth, and insecticide is required for all fruit growth (residential and orchards) within the Upper Grand Valley Pest Control District (UGVPCD) to limit damage that could be wrought on local fruit crops.

That’s why Mesa County Weed & Pest Coordinator Melissa Werkmeister is offering financial encouragement for locals living in the UGVPCD to remove backyard fruit trees if they aren’t caring for them properly. Within the district, it’s required by law to properly eradicate fruit-tree pests because of the prevalence of fruit orchards in the area. This incentive program kicked off this month and will last until December.

According to the Mesa County Division of Pest Management, “the UGVPCD will pay $15 to $50 per tree, for a maximum of $250, as an incentive to get backyard fruit growers who live within the pest district boundaries to remove their trees.” This deal is for backyard, residential fruit growers only, and it includes “peach, nectarine, cherry, plum, apricot, apple, crabapple” trees.

The district encompasses Clifton east to Palisade and parts of Orchard Mesa. Tree removal must also be carried out by landowners, not the county.

Werkmeister additionally stressed that even a few untreated backyard fruit trees may cause damage to the local orchard business because pests move quickly and can easily get out of control.

“If people are not spraying their trees, pests can fly tree to tree and orchard to orchard, and fruit-tree pests are pretty specific. … The pests are always there; it’s just whether you can control them. And if you miss just one spraying, you can get wormy apples. Then those pests will spread to orchards, and (growers) will not be able to sell their fruit at market.”

Even crab-apple trees can be an issue, Rose noted.

There have been instances in which the Mesa County Division of Pest Management took action against people who did not properly manage their fruit pests.

“Technically, people can be held accountable for their fruit trees if they live in the district,” Werkmeister said.

Interested folks with backyard fruit trees must contact Werkmeister first to find out if they qualify for the removal program. She may be reached at 970-255-7121 or

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