Pests Of Kiwi Vines: Information For Treating Kiwi Bugs

Pests Of Kiwi Vines: Information For Treating Kiwi Bugs

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By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer

Native to southwestern China, the kiwi is a vigorous, woody vine with attractive, rounded leaves, fragrant white or yellowish flowers, and hairy, oval fruits. While kiwi plants are tough and relatively easy to grow, they can fall prey to various kiwi plant pests. Read on to learn more about kiwi insects and tips for treating kiwi bugs.

Common Kiwi Fruit Pests

Below are the most common types of insect pests that affect kiwi plants.

Leafrollers – Leafroller caterpillars are considered minor pests of kiwi, but the pests can take a toll when they feed on the fruit. Avoid chemicals, as these may kill beneficial insects, like tachinid flies and parasitic wasps, which prey on leafrollers. Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is a safe, non-toxic treatment. Pheromone traps are also an effective means of control.

Spider mites – Spider mites are difficult to see with the naked eye, but you can recognize their presence by the fine webbing and speckled leaves. These minuscule kiwi insects are most prevalent during dry, dusty conditions. They are usually fairly easy to control with insecticidal soap spray or neem oil.

Thrips – These tiny kiwi fruit pests generally don’t kill the plant, but they can do their fair share of leaf damage, causing stunted growth when they suck out the succulent plant juices. Slender insects with fringed wings, thrips are often kept in check by blasting the affected areas with a strong stream of water. Insecticidal soap sprays are usually effective but must be repeated regularly.

Boxelder bugs – These winged pests of kiwi are most prevalent on kiwi plants grown in coastal areas. If you aren’t familiar with boxelder bugs, they are easy to recognize. Although the oval-shaped, mature bugs are dark with narrow red lines on their back, the young ones are tiny and red in color.

Nematodes – These tiny roundworms are usually relatively harmless in small numbers, but larger infestations weaken the plant and reduce fruit size. The best way to control these pests of kiwi is to treat the soil before planting. Healthy plants are more resistant than plants that are stressed due to drought or overwatering.

Japanese beetles – Although the metallic green bugs are beautiful in their own way, Japanese beetles, with their voracious appetites, are the bane of fruit growers. Encourage robins and other songbirds to visit your garden, as birds (got chickens?) enjoy munching on the grubs. Although chemicals should always be a last resort, broad-spectrum insecticides may be required if the damage is unacceptable.

While not much of a problem unless in high numbers, grasshoppers occasionally visit these vines and feed on the foliage or fruit.

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Read more about Kiwi Plants

Kiwis need sandy loam, though they struggle in clay. They have to be not only moist and deep but also well drained. It’s highly recommended that you water the newly transplanted vines regularly, but once you can see them taking hold, you can then slow down a bit. Watering also ensures the soil remains moist. If your area experiences harsh summer at time, it’s best if there’s an excellent irrigation system in place. Smaller vineyards can also benefit from them.

Wind is one of the greatest enemies in kiwi growing. The flowers and leaves of the plant are very fragile, and they can easily give in to very strong winds. In regions where winds are strong, installing windbreakers may be able to solve the problem.

Farmers should also watch out for light frosts, as they can give undue damage to the leaves of kiwis. When applying fertilizers, a small amount should be used during the early parts of summer or spring to avoid burning.

How to Manage Pests

UC IPM Pest Management Guidelines

University of California's official guidelines for pest monitoring techniques, pesticides, and nonpesticide alternatives for managing pests in agriculture, floriculture, and commercial turf. More

General Information


Insects and Mites



More information

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Statewide IPM Program, Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California
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For noncommercial purposes only, any Web site may link directly to this page. FOR ALL OTHER USES or more information, read Legal Notices. Unfortunately, we cannot provide individual solutions to specific pest problems. See our Home page, or in the U.S., contact your local Cooperative Extension office for assistance.

Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of California

How to Grow Kiwifruit

This article was co-authored by Andrew Carberry, MPH. Andrew Carberry has been working in food systems since 2008. He has a Masters in Public Health Nutrition and Public Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

There are 23 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Kiwifruits, also known as simply "kiwis," are a popular type of edible berry that grows on vines in temperate regions. While each vine can produce hundreds of pounds of fruit, it typically takes anywhere from three to as many as seven years for these plants to reach maturity. [1] X Research source Because of this large time investment, be sure to start with good stock and cultivate your kiwifruit plants using optimal methods.


It's best to prune hardy kiwi vines in winter, to promote fruit production. The first year after planting, select the most vigorous shoot that is straight, designating it as the permanent trunk. Cut back other shoots so as to concentrate vigor in the trunk. In subsequent winters, cut back each stem to 8 to 10 buds. In addition, prune as needed during summer to remove any excessively long shoots. There also may be more pruning techniques specific to the trellising method used.

Pest & Disease Control for Kiwi Berry Vines

Every plant has the future potential for disease and insect damage. Factors such as location and weather will play a part in which issues your plants encounters. If available, disease-resistant varieties are the best option for easy care and for all types of plants, proper maintenance (such as watering, pruning, spraying, weeding, and cleanup) can help keep most insects and diseases at bay.

NOTE: This is part 5 in a series of 9 articles. For a complete background on how to grow kiwi berry vines , we recommend starting from the beginning.

Phytophthora Crown and Root Rot

It causes weak plant growth and the development of small yellow leaves. Terminal growth may be stunted or die back. Plants often collapse and die during hot weather.

  • Avoid over irrigation and heavy wet clay soil.

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Root Knot Nematode

Small worms like insects causing swollen or knotted roots with above ground symptoms, yellowing, wilting, stunting and reduced yield.

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Japanese Beetle

Adult is metallic green beetle, which skeletonizes leaves. Larvae are a grub, which feeds on turf roots. Check turf product labels for timing of control of grubs. This is more of a problem east of the Mississippi River.

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Spider Mites

Pinpoint size, many different colors. Found on undersides of leaves. Sap feeding causes bronzing of leaves. Severe infestations have some silken webbing.

  • Keep your plant moist.

  • Consult County Extension Agent

Watch the video: Scale Insects 101