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Falling down the rabbit hole studying up about alternative codling moth treatments for apples and pears. So fun. So here’s what I have so far between what I have read and what I have practiced:
NOTE: Everything below is considered to be organic.
– Sanitation is key. Clean up fallen apples, or let your chickens do it. If you see apples on the tree with frass or “stings”, pick them and dispose.
– Timing is key. Set out codling moth traps (pheromone lures) to find out when they hatch (I hung mine up today)
– Treatment . . . this is where it feels like a shotgun method may be necessary. I don’t think just one thing is enough for the pressure we have around here.
– I like the idea of hanging plastic jugs with apple cider vinegar and molasses to capture as many as possible. This is the old timer way, and it sure doesn’t hurt to use it in conjunction with everything else.
1-cup Apple Cider Vinegar,
1/3-cup Dark Molasses,
6 drops of Dishwashing Liquid
Add enough water to make 1-1/2 quarts of Attractant.
– I will spray spinosad. I’ve had good luck, although never a flawless harvest. It’s certified organic, and when sprayed appropriately, should have little to no effect on beneficials (spray after dusk). Add some oil to your mix to make it more effective. Spray after you see moths in the traps, 7-10 days later again, and then 7 days later again. Re-spray three more times, on a monthly basis, or set fresh traps out to monitor for activity, then spray).
– BT (bacillus thurengensis) can be used the same way . . . I have had very little luck with BT though.
– Band your trees with cardboard, it provides shelter multi-generational larvae, then you can throw it away (I’d say monthly).
– Kaolin Clay. A mixture of a certain type of clay and water . . . you can spray this on the fruit as it’s maturing, and it will help create a physical barrier between the fruit and the pest. I’d suggest this as a later in the season thing to block second and third generations.
– Bagging. Another exclusion technique where you put a paper bag around every fruit. Doable with small trees I guess.
– CYD-X. A very specific virus (and VERY expensive), that can be sprayed early in the season and seems to be very effective. Only worth it I think if you have a large orchard.
– Also for a large orchard, Mating disruption lures. They smell like girl moths (like are in the traps), but you use these twist tie pheromones to create so much confusion as to where the ladies are, they boys just give up. Only effective on isolated acreage.
Controlling codling moth is a neighborhood effort. I am currently volunteering to monitor, trap and spray along with 3 other neighbors up and down our road (lots of apple trees), and we don’t want them tree owners to use chemicals. You can lower pressure in your yard, but addressing everyone’s yard. Great side effect . . . I get to harvest a bunch of apples from a neighbor who has 30 trees!
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