The codling moth is well known as a common and worldwide pest of apples. Unfortunately, this name is a little misleading as it is actually the caterpillar of the codling moth that does all the damage.

The adult moths are most active on warm nights during the months of June and July but even so, these moths are small and inconspicuous and are unlikely to be noticed. The female moths lay their eggs individually on the fruits and leaves of the apple tree which then hatch out into caterpillars a couple of weeks later. Once free of the egg, the codling moth caterpillar will immediately turn it attention to locating and tunnelling into the nearest developing fruit.


Put simply, the caterpillars tunnel extensively in to the flesh of maturing apples, making them inedible. Unfortunately, by the time that you realise your apple crop has codling moth – the damage has – most probably - already been done.


It is difficult to control codling moth using chemicals as the timing of your chemical application will need to be accurate enough to catch the caterpillars after they hatch from the eggs, but before they enter the fruits. In fact on larger apple trees chemical spraying may be ‘fruitless’, just because the area of the tree makes it inaccessible for effective spray coverage.

If you are still planning to spray for codling moth then you would need to do so in two stages. The first application is made after the apple tree has blossomed, then a second application three weeks later. WARNING! Make sure that your chemical is suitable for use on edible crops before you apply!

A far safer method is to use pheromone traps, but these are only effective to a point! There are two types; the first has a pheromone that only attracts the male codling moth. This type of trap has a sticky base that prevents the male moth from flying away once it has landed. In turn this stops the trapped male from fertilising any female codling moths.

The second type is far more effective, attracting both male and female codling moths to the trap. They are lured by a pheromone which tricks them into thinking they are about to have a sexual encounter. However the trap is not there to prevent them from flying off - it has a more diabolical plan in store! The base of the trap is full of a virus that is known to kill the codling moth larvae. The moth leaves frustrated, but now it is full of the virus which it then passes on to other moths when it finally manages have a successful sexual encounter.

This eventually leads to the contamination of eggs laid by the virus infected female moths, as well as the site around them. The larvae are killed by eating the virus left on the redundant egg case or on nearby foliage.

Unfortunately, codling moth pheromone traps are not terribly effective in the grand scheme of things. In fact research has shown that one viral pheromone trap is only likely to infect 5% of the population of codling moths in an area of 1 hectare. However, by monitoring sticky traps in conjunction with chemical control, you can get a far more accurate timing in which to spray for codling moth caterpillars, therefore reducing the need for wasteful and indiscriminate chemical spraying.

Alternatively -and this will need to be in place by July - consider using greace bands or even try tying sack-cloth or corrugated cardboard around the branches and tree trunks of your apple tree. This will act as a barrier method in preventing codling moth caterpillars reaching the maturing apples. However this is unlikely to reduce the number of egg-laying females codling moths in the following seasons as they can easily fly in from adjacent untreated trees.

For related articles click onto:
Are Slug Pellets Poisoning Our Wildlife
Blight Resistant Tomatoes
Blueberry Nutrition
Common Insect Pests on Tomatoes
Dahlia Pests and Diseases
Flea Beetles on Tomato Plants
Grey Mould on Tomatoes
How and Why does Over-watering Kill Plants?
How to Control Blackfly on Tomato Plants
How to Control Flea Beetles on Lettuce
How to Control Greenhouse Whitefly on Tomato Plants
How to Control Leaf Miner on Tomato Plants
How to Control Mosaic Virus on Tomato Plants
How to Control Slug Damage on Potato Tubers
How to get rid of Aphids on Roses
How to Grow an Apple Tree from Seed
How can you get Rid of the Red Lily Beetle?
How to get rid of Vine Weevils
How to Make a Natural and Organic Insecticide for Aphids
How to Make your Own Organic Pyrethrum Insecticide
How to Protect Fruit from Birds
How to Recognise Potato Blight
How to Recognise Vine Weevil Damage on Plants
How to Save and Recover an Over-watered Plant
Organic and Cultural Control of Potato Blight
Organic Control of Aphids on Lettuce
Organic Control of Aphids on Roses
Organic Control of Carrot Fly
Organic Control of Codling Moth
Organic Control of Grey Mould on Tomato Plants
Organic Control of Slugs
Organic Control of Vine Weevils
Pests and Diseases of Box Hedging Plants
Pests and Diseases of Hellebores
Pests and Diseases of Watercress
Poinsettia Pests and Diseases
Potato Blight
Primrose and Cowslip Pests and Diseases
Red Spider Mite on Tomatoes Plants
Sacrificial Planting
Slug and Blight Resistant Potato Varieties
Strawberry Plant Pests and Diseases
The Blueberry
The Pineapple
The Swallowtail Butterfly
Tulip Diseases
What are the Safe Organic Alternative to Slug Pellets
What is Blossom End Rot on Tomatoes?
What is Chlorosis?
What is Cuckoo Spit?
What is a Kiwi fruit?
What is a Papple?
What is the Tulip Breaking Virus?
Which Native Animals Eat Slugs and Snails
Which Plants Attract Aphid Predators to the Garden?

No comments: