Organic Codling Moth
using Homemade Traps and Natural Sprays
known as apple worm
is the scourge of apple farmers
and homesteaders alike.
There is nothing worse than finding a worm in your apple - well there
is - half a worm! - but this is a pest that not only attacks apple
orchards but also quinces, peaches, nectarines, plums, eggplants and
Early Signs of Codling Moth
Image of a Codling Moth
Caterpillar in an Apple
First Signs of Codling Moth and Life Cycle
The first sign of codling
moth and that
something is wrong with your fruit
is when it
before it has reached maturity. This is
because the caterpillar is in the fruit eating the seeds. Or, the fruit
will rot on the tree due to infection growing from the entrance hole
made by the caterpillar.
Look at the top and bottom of the apples and look for a small brown
hole. If present you have codling moth or apple worm. Each
specimen will be found perforated by a worm hole. The egg has been
laid in the calyx of the young apple, where it soon hatches into a
small white grub, which burrows into the core, throwing out behind
it a brownish powder.
Codling moth larvae
are very active tunneling into the fruit within
hours of hatching and unfortunately once inside the fruit are resistant
to any organic insecticides or pesticides. More bad news is that the
codling moth can produce up to 3 generations a year depending on the
climate. Thus, if you don't get these common pests under
orchards will soon be ruined.
After about three weeks of eating the apple the apple worm
eats its way out, shelters itself under the scaly bark of the
tree. If allowed to be scaly, or in some other hiding-place, spins
a cocoon, and in about three weeks comes out a moth, and is ready
to help destroy other apples.
There is some good news however, and that is that the codling moth is rather
lazy and doesn't move too far away from where it
What has been found is that the male codling move moves within an area
of 100 - 200 meters of where they were hatched and the female codling
moth rarely moves more than 50 meters from where she has laid her eggs.
This means that if you have finally been able to get rid of codling
moth from your homesteads and orchards unless you are unlucky enough to
have a neighboring orchard that is infested and less than 100 meters
away from you, you should then be free of this pest.
How do Orchards become
Infected with Codling Moths?
I can almost hear you
asking the question, well, if this codling moth doesn't move very far
how did I
get this pest in my orchards in the first place?
Well, they can be introduced in a number of ways, many of which you may
not be aware. First of all the are introduced by fruit.
Perhaps your neighboring farmer gave you some infected
apples, or you just happened to pick some up at the farmers' market or
Another way of bringing in codling moth is with infected packing cases
or wooden boxes that had apples in them.
Codling moth can hibernate for up to 2 years until conditions are
right, so very difficult sometimes to pinpoint exactly where and when
the infection came about. Knowing this, even if you have managed to
eradicate the moths from your orchards, be on your guard, because they
could easily pop up a couple of years later.
Organic Codling Moth
When you look for a plan
of attack taking the organic approach you
should look at it from 3 sides:
- Natural predators
- Organic sprays and codling moth traps
As mentioned above,
codling moth can be introduced into your farms via
a number of different ways, and it is these than need to be avoided.
So how do you prevent codling moth?
Check the fruit you receive or buy very carefully. Don't bring home any
old packing cases or wooden boxes that have been used to store apples,
quinces or other stone fruit mentioned, or where this fruit has been
stored in close proximity.
If you do end up with infected fruit don't throw them in the compost
heap or in the bin. Rather boil them in boiling water for half an hour
and then keep them submerged for a couple of days just to be on the
safe side. If you have pigs feed them to them straight away, or feed
them to the chickens. If you have a hot compost heap put them in there.
Caterpillars are eaten
ants and wasps. However, you will need
to attract these good insects into your garden and orchards.
and hoverflies are attracted to these flowers and will
feed on the
caterpillar lavae at the same time, cleaning up your orchard.
Even if you don't have apple worm in your quince and apple orchards
now, if you plant
parsnips and flowering umbellifera now it will be a
prudent preventative measure. Plant
flowering umbellifera near your apple trees. Parsnips are also
effective, and probably the easiest as they are self-seeding once they
are allowed to go to seed and will come up year after year.
Allowing your pigs, sheep, ducks and hens into your orchard from time
to time allowing them to eat any fallen fruit is another way of
cleaning up your orchard
and preventing an infestation.
Condling Moth Control using Sprays and
Codling Moth Traps:
One method of organic control is to codling moth traps
To do this you need to take an old can, make two holes on opposite ends
of the rim and make a handle out of string or wire so that you can hang
these up in the tree.
Now fill with 1 part
molasses to 10
Hang the traps in the trees and then every week empty and
If you find any moth inside the traps that you can identify as a
codling moth - see our page on garden pests for an image to confirm
identification - then you need to start spraying.
organic spraying regime for 2 weeks longer than your last catch.
Here is another Recipe
for a Homemade Codling Moth Trap
1 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/8 teaspoon amonia
5 cups water
mixture into a 5 gallon plastic jug and make 2 round holes in each side
at the top to allow the codling moth to enter the jug. Tie in the trees
with an old stocking or similar around the handle.
Organic Codling Moth
Control using Grease Bands
Another way to control
codling moth is to place grease bands on the
all the main branches. This prevents the caterpillars migrating up the
trunks in search of an apple to lay its eggs. As caterpillars don't fly
and move from the ground up, and along the branches, this is a good
Trees should also be scraped free of all scales in the spring, and
washed with a solution of soft soap. About the 1st of July, wrap
bandages of old cloth, carpet, or rags of any kind around the trunk
and larger limbs. The worms will appreciate such excellent
cover, and will swarm into these hiding places to undergo
transformation into moths. Therefore the wraps of rags should be taken
down often, thrown into scalding water, dried, and replaced.
Organic Codling Moth
Control using Organic Sprays
Spraying your orchards
is a last resort as even organic sprays can be
harmful to other insects, especially bees. However, sometimes you have
no option. The best sprays for codling moth are Ryania, Dipel and
good for cooler climates and works well and getting rid of
both caterpillar and moth. It also kills Japanese beetles,
bugs, potato aphids, onion thrips, corn earworms, silkworms.
kill the moths, but not the
grubs. Spray Dipel on the apples themselves and do this every week,
while spraying Derris every 2 weeks. Continue this spraying schedule
until there are no more moths in your traps.
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