What is eating my apple tree?

Asked July 9, 2019, 7:53 PM EDT

Something is eating my apple tree. The leaves, starting from the bottom of the tree are gone. Doesn't look like bugs. So, do rats or sage rats eat the whole leave & chew the ends of the branches? They small apples are being dropped to the ground. It's not bunnies as the destruction is gradually moving up the tree, about 4 feet so far. The top branches are un touched. So leaves gone & ends of branches eaten. What can I do? Is there something I can spray? Tree is 3 years old & about 7 feet tall. I don't see any bugs or brown leaves. Leaves are just gone & stems dropped on the ground. Help! Please.

Deschutes County Oregon

3 Responses

This sounds like it could be deer browsing, but you would probably see the deer at times or at least pellets nearby. Could you please take a photo of the nipped-off end of the branch and the damage you're describing?

It isn't deer as there aren't any in the neighborhood. Neighbors apple trees are untouched, one being just 5 feet from mine. I don't have a camera so can't take a picture. Now my 2nd apple tree, same size is having the exact same problem. They are about 20 feet apart. Could it be sage rats? Do they climb trees? I had rats/sage rats get under the hood of my car. Car is between the 2 trees. Leaves are eaten, except the top branches. Ends of branches are eaten off. Over night, nearly! My apple trees look like skeleton trees.. :( What should I do? Picture an apple tree with leaves gone, Some, 3/4 of the leaves are gone with just the stem. Lots of stems on the ground, along with immature apples.
Should I put netting around the trees? Spray? What do I spray? How often. Help! My apple trees are bare, except for the top few leaves. Thanks. Janet

If ground squirrels are causing this damage, there is no spray that would be relevant. To keep the squirrels from reaching the branches of your tree, I recommend building a baffle of some form to prevent them from climbing up there. This article gave a good summary of some alternative baffle designs: https://homeguides.sfgate.com/squirrel-baffle-trees-86114.html