Who hasn’t reached up into a tree to pick that perfect apple only to find signs that a worm is sharing your fruit! You say you’ve sprayed your fruit and still get worms? The Codling moth is the culprit and timing is important in getting worm free fruit. Now is the time to begin your control program. Notice I said begin! The Codling Moth, a small, grayish, night- flying moth causes most of the damage to apples and pears in the Treasure Valley. They show up about the middle of May and begin to lay eggs on the small fruit about a week later. After hatching, the larva tunnel into the fruit where we find them, hopefully in one piece. There are several generations of this insect each summer so control is a season long process.
There are several different ways you can try to control this insect. An old home remedy is to use a trap made from a milk jug. Cut windows in the sides of the jug so the moths are able to fly into a sticky syrup that you put in the bottom. The syrup is made from equal parts of vinegar, water and molasses. Replace the solution as needed and scoop out the dead insects. This trap attracts insects in general, not just Coddling Moths. However, any in the trap aren’t in your apples.
If you’ve got some time and want to protect only a few of your apples, you can wrap the apples in small paper bags or old support hose. It’s time consuming, but it does work. To get nice color on the fruit, remove the covers a few weeks before you harvest so the sunshine can get to them. A friend’s Mother’s Day request; 100 bagged apples.
Neem Oil is a botanical, organic insecticide used against many different insects, including fruit insects. Interestingly, Neem Oil is one of those rare natural products that can also be used as a fungicide.
BT, a biological organic product, is a bacteria that is only harmful to larva and caterpillars. BT products will need to be sprayed more often than a chemical insecticide.
Chemical control is the most common form of insect control on fruit. Bonide Fruit Tree Spray is labeled for use against this insect and some tree diseases, too. Sevin or Malathion are also both labeled for Codling Moth. These products need to be sprayed about every 7-10 days but will give excellent results. Read the label on any chemical you use to determine spray frequency. Pay special attention to the number of days you need to wait between your last spray and your harvest day. Spray when bees are not active.
Having worm free fruit is a time consuming proposition which is why so many folks take advantage of our local orchards and farmers markets. If you have fruit trees in your yard, hopefully these tips will help you enjoy yummy, insect free fruit later this summer.