The fruit starts from a small flower, coming directly off a branch. There's no shortage of scale and other bugs sometimes.
I pinch the bugs (ugh!) to kill them during fruiting season, to avoid pesticides in the fruit. I don't pinch the rats.
Prune the tree back a lot, after harvest time, and the branches will grow back even fuller for the next season. They are related to the atemoya, cherimoya and guanabana (soursop).