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Raccoons (Procyon lotor) and opossums (Didelphis virginiana) cause damage when peaches begin to ripen. They generally consume fruit, but leave piles of pits or partially consumed fruit on the ground around trees. Both animals can damage trees while accessing peaches. Damage is usually localized but extreme. Look for tracks or scat in or around orchards to identify species. Because they are nocturnal, these animals generally cause damage at night.

Raccoons.
Raccoons.

(Photo: Johnny N. Dell, Bugwood.org)

    

Raccoon track.
Raccoon track.

(Photo: Evgeniya Mukhitova, Shutterstock.com)

       

Raccoons and opossums leave behind peach pits after consuming fruit.
Raccoons and opossums leave behind peach pits
after consuming fruit.

(Photo: Matthew Springer, University of Kentucky)

    

Raccoon scat.
Raccoon scat.

(Photo: Matthew Springer, University of Kentucky)

    

Opossum.
Opossum.

(Photo: David Cappaert, Bugwood.org)

   

Opossum track.
Opossum track.

(Photo: Evgeniya Mukhitova, Shutterstock.com)

     

Management:

  • In small-scale operations, install metal fencing to reduce opossum damage; metal fencing is not effective against raccoons.
  • Electric fencing is effective for both opossums and raccoons when a live wire is located at their nose level (about 4 to 6 inches off the ground).
  • Trapping or shooting individuals is also effective. Set cage or dog-proof traps baited with canned tuna or cat food around trees beginning 2 to 3 weeks before harvest. 

     

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