How to Prevent and Get Rid of Codling Moths in Your Garden

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If you grow apple, pear or walnut trees, you need to know about the codling moth, one of the most destructive fruit pests. The larvae bore holes in the fruit, destroying your crop.

If you grow apples, pears or walnuts, you need to learn what to look for and how to take quick action.

With the right preventive measures and control methods, you can fight these pests back to a manageable level and keep them away.

What are coding moths?

coding moths, Cydia Pomonella, It is a serious pest infecting apple, pear and English walnut trees. They were introduced to North America by colonists several hundred years ago, and now, they are one of the top pests in home gardens.

Codling moths measure 1/2 to 3/4 inch long with brown wings that they hold over their bodies like a tentacle. Their mottled color makes it fairly easy for these pests to mix with the darkness on your fruit trees, which is why they are often difficult to identify and locate.

Codling moth larvae are small worm-like insects with white to pale pink, dark brown heads. If you find a caterpillar inside the fruit of an apple or pear, it is probably a codling moth larva.

Their loss is a serious problem, especially for commercial fruit orchards. They lead to a lower market value of the fruit, and in some cases, an infestation destroys almost the entire crop.

Lifecycle of Coding Moth

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Codling Moths in Your Garden

To prevent and treat this pest, gardeners need to understand the life cycle of the codling moth.

The codling moth overwinter as a full-grown larva inside a thick, silky cocoon under the bark of the tree. They also hide in soil and debris at the base of fruit trees.

When spring arrives, the larvae pupate inside the cocoons, which emerge as adult moths from mid-March to mid-April. Most people rarely see adult codling moths because they are only active in the early hours just before and just after sunset.

Codling moth females lay 30 to 70 small eggs on the fruits, leaves and spurs of the trees they attack. These eggs turn into larvae that chew on fruits or nuts before eventually falling into the soil, living there until they become adults and again emerge as adult pests.

Disadvantages of Coding Moth

Since you can’t always see these pests, you need to know what codling moth damage looks like.

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Codling Moths in Your Garden

The larvae dig into the fruit, tunneling up to the core as they eat their way out. As they move in, they fill the pores with a reddish-brown, crumbly material called frass (the fecal waste they leave behind). No one wants to eat fruit full of insect poop! The tunnels rot and soften, making the fruit inedible.

In some situations, these pests can infect up to 90% of fruits.

If codling moths infest nut trees, the larvae feed on the kernels, resulting in smaller-than-normal nuts that leave the trees much earlier than average. However, the damage caused to nut trees is much less than the damage caused to fruit trees.

how to get rid of coding moth

Sadly, these pests are quite difficult to manage, especially if populations begin to increase over several growing seasons. If you detect it and start treatment early, it is much more successful. The goal is to keep the population at a certain number.

1. Horticultural Oil

In early spring, scrape off some of the bark on your fruit tree and remove the overwinter cocoons before they have a chance to pupate into adult moths. Then, use a horticultural oil spray to kill the eggs and in the early stages.

2. Beneficial Nematodes

Another way to get rid of codling moths is to use beneficial nematodes to your advantage. These are different from root-knot nematodes, which are definitely not your friends.

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, worm-like parasites that prey on and destroy immature codling mites. All you have to do is spray them on the twigs and main branches of your fruit tree, along with the soil, up to the drip line.

Doing so reduces the mortality rate to 60–90% for the pre-pupa stages. This is not a bad way to get rid of these insects!

3. Hang Trap

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Codling Moths in Your Garden

Another trick for getting rid of codling moths is to hang traps over the fruit or nut trees you want to protect. It doesn’t eliminate them all, but it does help keep the population down compared to others.

You can’t use any traps. The best traps to use are coding moth pheromone traps. You can find these at most garden centers or on Amazon, and they tend to attract adult moths.

4. Trunk Banding

Trunk banding is a traditional, non-chemical method of controlling and getting rid of codling moths. The goal is to trap mature larvae in cardboard bands as they climb tree trunks, searching for a place to pupate.

Banding works best on smooth-barked varieties because they do not naturally have other pupa areas. If you use this trick on trees with lots of cracks, the larvae will find a place to pupate before they reach the trap.

5. Pesticides

If you have a large population of codlings, you often have to resort to insecticides to reduce the numbers. You need to time insecticide use, and in most cases, multiple applications are needed to get rid of the codling moth.

Look for insecticides that contain carbaryl or spinosad. These are the most effective.

How to stop codling moths in your garden

Preventing the codling moth is the preferred course of action; It is much easier to prevent this pest in the garden than to get rid of it. Here are some tips for preventive measures.

1. Choose Less Sensitive Varieties

Early maturing apples and pears are less prone to codling moths than other varieties. If you are concerned about your walnut trees, late-leaf walnuts are less susceptible to these pests.

If you’re not sure which selection will be best, ask your local garden nursery for suggestions.

2. Improve Sanitation Around Your Fruit Trees

Sanitation is a big part of fruit tree growing and gardening. This is an important step in preventing and getting rid of codling moths, especially if you prefer to avoid chemical remedies.

Removing debris from around the bottom of your trees is a routine task. Remove any leaves that have fallen to the ground and keep the area clear of weeds.

Check your tree for affected fruits and remove them. Doing so helps prevent the larvae from getting old enough to crawl and pupate, thereby increasing the population. Plus, thinning out bad fruits helps your tree put more energy into healthy fruits, which leads to larger apples and pears.

Always clean up dropped fruits whenever they fall on the ground. They may have larvae inside, but they also invite other pests, diseases, and critters to your fruit trees.

3. Don’t Forget to Prune

Pruning and thinning your fruit trees is a must if you want to prevent codling moths from finding your fruit trees.

One of the best tips is to cut your fruit trees down to a manageable height that allows you to easily reach the canopy. This helps you manage the pest population better. If they can avoid you, you will never be able to get rid of them all.

4. Fruit Bag

How to Prevent and Get Rid of Codling Moths in Your Garden

One of the best control methods for codling moths is to protect the fruit on the tree from codling moths, but this is also one of the most time-consuming ways to get rid of these pests. However, bagging is so effective that you often don’t need chemicals.

It’s best to pack all the fruit on the tree, even if you think you don’t need as many fruits. Any unpackaged fruit serves as a host for codling moths.

When the fruits are 1/2-1 inch in diameter, you should place the bags over the fruit four to six weeks after the fruit has flowered. This involves thinning the fruit into a cluster and placing paper bags around the fruit.

Even if you are covering the fruit, it does not affect the quality of the fruit’s ripeness. However, it inhibits the full-color development of red varieties.

You can buy bags specially made for this purpose.

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