Curb­ing moth’s ap­ple ap­petite

The Tribune (NZ) - - GARDENING - WALLY RICHARDS

Codlin moth emerges from co­coons in the soil un­der­neath host trees in early spring and sum­mer, when there are young ap­ples on the trees and the weather con­di­tions are favourable (15 de­grees plus).

Af­ter mat­ing, fe­males lay their eggs (up to 300 while ac­tive) in­di­vid­u­ally on leaves near the young fruit. The eggs hatch in 10 to 14 days and the grub heads to the ap­ple and eats its way in. While go­ing through its life stages, the grub dam­ages the in­side of the ap­ple to emerge at ma­tu­rity and drop to the ground or find a crevice in the trunk to pu­pate and win­ter over. Codlin moth also like pears and wal­nuts to feed on dur­ing their lar­val stages.

Here’s how to min­imise the dam­age these pests cause. In July (now) sprin­kle Neem Tree Gran­ules at 50 to 100 grams per square me­tre. around the base of the tree out to the drip line. The idea is to cre­ate a odour bar­rier so that when the moths emerge they can­not smell the tree above. While on the sur­face they are easy prey for birds. There is also the pos­si­bil­ity that neem gran­ules un­der the tree will de­ter or con­trol in­sect pests in the canopy. From late Au­gust, put pheromone traps in the tree. A cheap al­ter­na­tive is to use trea­cle, which mim­ics the fe­male pheronome, in a lid in­side a hous­ing of some sort. Re­new the trea­cle to keep things sticky. When male moths are found in the traps it means they are on the wing, so spray the ap­ples with a mix­ture of Wallys Su­per Neem Tree Oil and Rain­gard. Don’t spray the whole tree, just the fruit. Neem is an anti fee­dent and makes the fruit un­ap­petis­ing. Spray every 10 -14 days un­til the male moths no longer ap­pear in the trap.

In early spring, re­move flaky bark at the base of the tree to re­duce over­win­ter­ing sites and ex­pose those lar­vae to birds. Later dur­ing spring, put sticky pa­per around the tree to catch any moths crawl­ing up the trunk.

In Novem­ber wrap cor­ru­gated card­board around the tree to catch any grubs crawl­ing down. The grubs crawl in­side the cor­ru­ga­tions to in­cu­bate In De­cem­ber, Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary re­new the card­board and burn the old. If the codlin moth grub is suc­cess­ful in bor­ing a small hole into the ap­ple, it’s too late. It eats its way to the cen­tre and grow, de­posit­ing their waste and when big enough, eat their way out. They then ei­ther crawl down the trunk, where they may pu­pate in the bark, or drop to the soil by a silky thread.

Chooks around the tree will eat the co­coons in win­ter (June to Septem­ber).

As well as neem gran­ules, marigolds and smelly herbs around trees can also con­fuse the moths that are try­ing to find the scent of the ap­ple tree and can make it dif­fi­cult for the fe­male to lay eggs near the fruit.

Prob­lems, ring 0800 466464.

PHOTO: FAIRFAX NZ

It won’t be long be­fore ap­ple trees break into blos­som. Codlin moth are also wait­ing for spring to come, so now’s the time to put a non­toxic anti-moth ap­ple pre­serv­ing strat­egy into place.

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