GARDENING WITH DEBBI
IF you grow apples, pears or quince, then you may be familiar with codling moth.
The fruit often has small brown holes on it with brown frass, a fancy word for caterpillar poo, coming out of it.
Sometimes though, the presence of caterpillar larvae is not obvious until biting or cutting onto the fruit. Yuck.
They are a problem worldwide, especially in the fruit growing industry, where year round vigilance and integrated control methods are used.
Understanding the life cycle of the codling moth is crucial to reduce the infestations.
The adult female codling moth lays eggs on the surface of leaves or fruit during spring and early summer.
They hatch around 14 days later and burrow into the fruit, feeding as they go.
After about three to five weeks feeding inside the fruit, they are large enough to emerge and find a place to pupate in cocoons.
They pupate for around 18 to 30 days when they emerge as fully grown adult moths. And the cycle starts again. Three generations of codling moth can occur during the growing season, with the last lying dormant during the winter, ready to emerge next spring to start the cycle all over again.
Controlling codling moth starts now.
Destroy hibernating codling moth cocoons by removing loose or flaking bark, broken branches and leaf litter from the branches, forks and bases of apple and pear trees.
Other winter hiding places can be in crevices in the ground or under mulch.
Pick up and destroy old fruits on the ground which may harbour over-wintering larvae.
Wrapping a wide band of corrugated cardboard around the trunk of the tree, gives caterpillars a perfect place to pupate and traps hatching larvae.
The bands can be used all year round but must be removed and burned every three weeks to break the breeding cycle.
A new product called Success Ultra controls the larvae of the codling moth.
The entire tree needs to be sprayed every 7–14 days starting in early spring.
Finally, birds and chooks are natural predators so let them help in the fight.