Codling Moth

This is about the time of year I start looking for codling moth damage.  The tiny moth lays an egg on the bottom (calyx) end of the apple and the hatching maggot tunnels into the core, where it grows and feeds.  This damage makes the apple drop on the ground, where the maggot exits and pupates in the leaf mold into an adult moth. 

However, there must be something that controls the population, as in our long season multiple generations can grow in a season and they would quickly take over; but as it is I only lose about a couple dozen apples from the 100 trees we have here.  I don’t know if its the heat, predators, or dry climate that controls them, but I have no active control program.  If it got any worse there are steps I could take short of spraying repeatedly like commercial orchards do; the moths are attracted to round red things, so there are these lures that look like a red croquet ball that you cover with sticky stuff that traps the moth.  Others use a trap that has molasses and vinegar.

A telltale sign of infestation is a hole on the apple, often on the calyx, that has what appears to be dark brown sawdust coming out of it.  It is important to pick these off the tree and collect them off the ground so the maggot won’t escape to mature.  Farmers used to run hogs and geese in the orchard which would take care of these infested dropped apples (and you’d get apple-fed bacon in the fall).  They seemed to prefer some varieties; the Fuji tree will have a bunch while Pink Lady has none; I don’t know if the tree location, blossoming time, or leaf cover has anything to do with this. 

In Switzerland they found apple cores estimated to be from 3,000 BC; and yes, some had maggots in them.  The codling moth was there even back then…


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